Cloud Storage

(cross posted on the Tar River Educator)

I’ve been playing around with several cloud storage options over the past several months and I’ve found another one I’ve decided I like.  And this one is DropBox.  Here’s what I like about it:

1) I do not have to be connected to the Internet to access my files – they are stored locally on my system and uploaded only when I’m connected (great for working at home on the laptop, which doesn’t always get a connection)

2) Allows for syncing of files between multiple computers

3) Extremely easy to use and quick to upload/download files

4) Works on both Macs and PCs seamlessly (I have a Mac at home and put up with a PC for work!)

Here’s what I don’t like about it – and there’s only one thing: the free storage capacity is set to 2GB (I could purchase additional but I’m too cheap for that).

Here’s how I’m using it – and why I’m already close to my storage limit.  The past six months I’ve been working to combine all my accounts and settings into one area, and I have three key accounts: my personal ones for home, my work ones for school, and my church ones for my church job.  So in my dropbox I have three main folders: one for home, one for school, and one for church, and I can access any or all of them at any time.  It’s the (for now) cloud storage answer for files that is similar to my use of Google Bookmarks with the GMarks-add-on for Firefox that keeps all my bookmarks synced together on all my computers.

Think of it this way – DropBox is like having a flash drive with you at all times without having to keep a flash drive with you.  Unlike Windows SkyDrive or Google Docs, I do not have to be connected to the internet to access the files, but like those two services I do have the ability to share folders with other users so they can access them.  (Now if DropBox would just up their storage limit I would be a much happier person).

For those who are considering installing it on their computers, just know that once it’s installed it saves all the files in a folder called “My DropBox” under the “My Documents” folder on your desktop.  By saving files directly into the “My DropBox” folder  – or any subfolder within it – (from Word or Excel or any other program) your files will automatically be uploaded and stored on the cloud server.  Here’s three examples from this past week where I used it:

1) I was working on a new faculty handbook for my new staff.  I saved the file to DropBox when I left work and then accessed it from home that evening to review and edit it.  When I got back to work the next day all the changes were already there.

2) Sunday afternoon I created a new worship set for my church service and put together the slide show for the congregation to follow along (something I do every Sunday) – I saved it to my DropBox folder and then when I arrived at church I accessed DropBox via the web side and downloaded the file onto the A/V computer in my church so the slide show was there.

3) I planned to use some new musical arrangements for a worship service this past Sunday that required print-outs of new sheet music.  I uploaded them to my share folder on DropBox and the other musicians were able to access them and download the files they needed for their individual parts.

If you don’t currently use some sort of Cloud Storage consider giving DropBox a try – and if you click on this link you should get a free 250MB of storage!


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