I've found a location I like but it's hard to explain. I like cloud storage. I had a fascinating conversation with my poor technophobe father who couldn't grasp the idea that something was stored in a place that wasn't tangible. I tried to point out the internet is already a place that doesn't exist to touch or visit and he stopped me and went to make another cup of tea; clearly confused by my poor explanations.
Let me start by saying it has nothing to do with the weather nor is it something white and fluffy in the sky. It means storing off-site with a third party using a remote database so you can easily access the files at any time. So that's better than storing memory sticks or SD cards at your friends house and then trying to arrange a time when you can go through them to find the one file you need.
To add files to your cloud storage you need internet access but as the files are not on your computer you can then access them from anywhere just by going online. That means no more emailing documents to yourself for printing or saving, and no more large photo files clogging up your Inbox as you can share the files in cloud storage too.
Is it Secure?
The simple answer is yes but you can add extra encryption if you have more sensitive data you need to keep private. The simplest encryption tools I've tried so far are Tresorit (treasure-it – geddit?) and boxcryptor. Both are free and simple to use.
How to Choose Cloud Ctorage
There are many options out there and often when buying new tech equipment a cloud storage package will be offered but if you're not buying anything new and you're ready to start trying cloud storage these are my top tips.
Dropbox: What's not to love? It's simple to use and you get 2GB space for free. This is what I use to share files by creating a folder of the things I want to send and then permitting access for a certain user or users so I no longer send large emails. It's a great work tool and for personal files too but both you and the party you wish to share with need to have Dropbox software installed on a computer. But that is also free and just a short installation with no hidden costs. It's not a short term offer – this is always free to use. If you have a lot of data to store do consider buying more cloud storage with Dropbox as they offer good deals there too. You can also gain more no-cost storage space by encouraging others to sign up. I also use the Dropbox app which means I can see my files on my phone as well.
Google Drive: You can get 5GB free cloud storage with Google Drive and can buy plenty more space. Like Dropbox, it's very easy to use and there's a smartphone app too so everything is easy to access, when needed.
New Way of Working
I have used Carbonite before but found the automatic backing up of everything on my PC slowed the machine down and file retrieval was not as easy as I hoped and took too much time. Using Dropbox and Google Drive feels the same as using the Documents or Pictures folder on your PC. You can get further cloud storage recommendations here.
I'm now storing all new documents in Google Drive and my camera saves image files in Dropbox when connected. Once I've done any editing to use online and the images can be archived I'm moving them to a private Flickr account as there is 1TB of free space available to all users. This also helps with image copyright and ownership as I can prove the date I saved each image online if I see it used without permission. No-one will get to the images in the Flickr account as I have it set to not appear in search so the proof of ownership would only be needed when I've used the image elsewhere.
Anyway, this is just an introduction to cloud storage but I hope you can see how easy it is to use and to integrate into your working day. If you have any more tips please do share in Comments below.