I am sure that it has happened to everyone at some point, that important document that you have on your memory stick will no longer open or even worse the memory stick will no longer be recognised by the computer. I know it has happened to a number of students this year and as a result has placed them under considerably more pressure to meet the assignment deadlines.
The unfortunate truth is that memory sticks are not invincible, they will inevitably stop working at some point. So the question is what is the best option available to you in order to make it easy to transport important files between home and college?
Fortunately recent changes to the Internet filtering policy of the college have meant that staff and students now have access to a range of new services, including cloud storage.
Many people are still unsure about what exactly cloud storage is, I can think of at least five different descriptions which I could use at this point but I settled on this one:
“It is that hard drive which is accessible from everywhere you have an Internet connection.”
Seriously if you think of it in those terms, suddenly the idea of the ‘cloud’ becomes a lot easier to get your head around.
Let me give you a real life example, I regularly prepare worksheets for my classes at home and save them as PDFs ready to be printed. Once they are ready for distribution I just save them to a ‘Print’ folder on my cloud storage drive. When I get to work, I just log into my storage providers website and download the PDF. I don’t have to remember to grab my memory stick and put it into my bag, the file is just sitting there ready to go.
There are three main providers I would suggest looking at, below you will find a brief overview of each one.
Dropbox is a simple service and until recently possibly one of the best options available if you wanted quick access to cloud storage. They offer a number of different storage tiers, starting with a free 2GB account (although there are various methods of getting some extra free space).
The biggest advantage of Dropbox is that many mobile apps can use it to sync your data, which means that your settings and information is always safe.
OneDrive (formally known as Sky Drive) is Microsoft’s cloud storage system. Again as with Dropbox they offer a number of different storage tiers, however their free plan starts with 7GB (although there are various methods of getting some extra free space).
OneDrive also provides you access to an online version of Office. While this is a cut-down version of the full office software, it will meet most peoples needs and will allow you to create Word, Excel and Powerpoint files.
It is also worth noting that many of you may already have a OneDrive account, if at any point you have created a Microsoft Live account for e-mail or the Xbox Live service – you should have access to a OneDrive account. Depending on when exactly you created that account, you maybe one of the lucky ones who has a 25GB storage allocation!
Google Drive offers the largest amount of free storage and with changes to their storage tiers recently also the cheapest option for gaining large amounts of online storage. Their free plan will give you access to 15GB of storage, which in most cases will be more than enough for any member of staff.
However if you are looking to upload large quantities of photos and other important files on your drive ready to be used at school, you can upgrade your online storage to 100GB for just $1.99 a month.
As with OneDrive, Google Drive provides you with some other advantages, providing you with the ability to create a Document, Presentation or Spreadsheet. Once you have created these documents you can also download them in a Microsoft Office formatted document ready to be shared with students and other member of staff.
Ok, so what about the inevitable concern about security, after all we are dealing with a huge range of information and we want to make sure that it is kept safe and sound. Well all three services recommend that you use a strong password which includes a full range of letters, numbers, capital letters and special characters. However they also allow you to enable two-step verification, by enabling this you are essentially saying that entering just one password isn’t enough and you want even more security!
Each of the above providers will ask you to provide your mobile number, whenever you try to log into your cloud storage, you will be sent a verification code via text message. You will have to enter this code in order to access your storage. The important thing here is that the code is only usable once and for a short period of time, it is also completely random (in other words no one is going to be able to guess the code!).
If you have any questions about using cloud storage, feel free to send me an e-mail or pop into the media centre to have a chat.