Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Online Storage

A few years ago online storage for your digital files was a very expensive option, but more recently it has become a more affordable proposition, with more companies offering 2GB or more of storage to individual users for free, and larger space options at more reasonable prices than ever before.

So what is online storage all about?

Think of it as the digital version of a safety deposit box at your bank. You might rent a safety deposit box to store something valuable; it's safer than at home and it's offsite. The best strategy is to keep a copy of valuable paperwork at home and the original at the bank. Of course nothing is foolproof and a bank can burn to the ground, but in general you trust that the bank vaults have better protection than your home filing system.

This same strategy applies to your digital files. A company that specializes in online storage solutions will have extra safety features, backups, and security to keep your files safe. Again, nothing is foolproof,  but if you keep a copy of all your important files on an online storage server you can still retrieve those files if you lose those on your home computer for any reason. Those reasons could include computer failure or virus, theft, or a disaster like fire or flood.

For all of us the systems we will actually use are generally those that are the easiest and least time consuming.

There are many companies offering online storage, both free and premium paid options. The ones that have been around for a while have developed some useful options;  integration into file explorer, apps for tablet users, and file and folder sharing options for example.

There are solutions geared to home users and businesses. I will be talking about the basic home user.

Among the most well known and well developed solutions are:
OneDrive (Microsoft)
Google Drive (Google)
iCloud (Apple)

You can use some or all of these. I have an account with all of these and use them for different purposes.

The ones I use daily are Dropbox and OneDrive
The latest subscription based version of Microsoft Office, Office 365,  comes with over 1TB of storage per user, which makes it a bargain.

I linked my computer to OneDrive and I make it my default folder for documents, pictures, videos and the like. Whenever I create or edit one of those files on my computer it automatically begins to upload a copy to my OneDrive storage space online.
I have a OneDrive app on my tablet and phone too, so I can easily access those same files on all devices.

I have also downloaded the Dropbox program for my PC, and the Dropbox  app for my tablet and phone. When I manually place a file in the Dropbox folder those files are uploaded to my Dropbox and I can access them from my tablet or phone, useful for transferring files among devices. Dropbox also offers easy folder sharing options so you can very easily share files with a family member, friend or co- worker.

Google Drive integrates well with my Google apps so I will use that too.

If you would like to know more about how to use these options and how to set them up, I can go into more detail in person with my clients,  or ask a trusted tech savvy friend or family member.

What are the main advantages of online storage:

Offsite backup.
You can back your files to a local external drive but a fire or flood or theft could result in loss of both computer and backup drive.

Ease of transfer between devices, especially useful for tablets and phones.

Ease of transferring large files to someone else when those files are too large to email.

Automated Backups.
When set up correctly backups of files can be automated, great for those of us who forget about backups until it's too late.

For those using iDevices;  iPhones and iPads, iCloud is an important backup tool. Just be sure you check your options in settings to know what it is backing up for you.

Check out all the free options available from the trusted online storage providers.

I have one Google Drive set up to simply store my photos.
I manually uploaded them all, which initially took a while, and I add to it when I have a new folder of photos that I want kept safe. I don't use that drive for anything else and I only need to access it when add photos. However I have not needed more than the free space, so why not?

Online storage options are more affordable than ever. Initially it might take a little of your time set them up but it can be well worth the effort. After the initial set up maintenance is much less time consuming.

So if you are not using any form of online storage, this may be a good time to check it out.
If you are coming to this blog because you know me, you can always ask me for help.

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