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  • Writer's pictureMichelle D Rogers

The Cloud is your Best Friend

I remember the day I decided to move all of my digital files into the cloud, and it has saved me mega headaches since.

Cloud 9 - A Real Place

That day I was at a meeting, ready to present, and realized that my presentation file I had sent to myself was corrupted. I thought I had wisely saved it to my flash drive as a backup, but, alas, I had not. So there I was quite embarrassed without my presentation. It was on my desktop hard drive at the other campus, and not to mention looking rather silly since I was the ed tech support.

I shook my hand in the air and vowed: Never Again!

Well. Not really. But, I did then move all my work files to the cloud, which I will now share my favorites with you.

If you are reading this and saying 'But, what is the cloud??", then know it is nothing more than hosting your digital files somewhere on the Internet so that anywhere you are (or, where you have Internet connection that is) you can access your files. In the US this makes sense. In Kenya it may not. So choose wisely. Using the cloud is becoming more common place, and there are so many services it can be hard for someone to choose one.

Where I am currently working all teachers have iPads (as do most all students). So, we encourage the use of cloud services that are easily accessed from the iPad. However, I am a fan of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and not of locking oneself into a single device; not when we are changing devices so rapidly these days. Therefore I use and prefer cloud services that are also BYOD.

Cloud Tools

Below I list some of the cloud services I have used in particular just because they are BYOD, thus offering me connectivity from multiple devices.

  1. Google Drive: if you use gmail or Google+ then this is included. Even if you don't, you can sign up for one. At present Google Drive allows up to 15GB of storage for free, which certainly beats a lot of other services. It also has an app that puts it on the 'file finder' index of any computer, as well as apps for most tablets and smartphones.

  2. Box: Like Google Drive, you can download and install access to Box on your 'file finder' index of any computer, as well as apps for most tablets and smartphones. As of writing this blog post they give you 10GB of storage space for free, but often have special deals for increasing that in various ways. I have capitalized on some of those deals and now have 50GB of storage there. We use box a lot on the iPad as it is integrated into many other iPad apps as a file storage and retrieval system.

  3. DropBox: I have an account here because it works so well on the iPad and is integrated into so many other iPad apps as a file storage and retrieval system, more so than even Box. But, they only give you 2GB for free (come on DropBox, get with the times!!!). You can increase that a little by doing various things they ask of you, but, not much. I tend to use it to store my iPad notes and journals in, or to share some files publicly. Otherwise I stick to the Google Drive and Box which give me far more space for free.

  4. OneDrive: Microsoft's cloud, OneDrive (formerly called SkyDrive) gives you 7GB for free. But, frankly, since Google Drive and Box give me far more than that, I do not use OneDrive much. I did test it out with my work Outlook account, and even found it was not integrated as well as Gmail and Google Drive is. I do not personally rate this one that highly, but put it as there are those who prefer it.

  5. iCloud: Apple's cloud, iCloud works with any app on the iPad or iPhone, but can be used as a general cloud service from any Mac or PC as well. However, it only works on iOS handheld devices, so isn't BYOD enough for many even if they can use it on a PC. It only gives 5GB for free as well, which, as I said before, means I tend to use Box and Google Drive instead which give much more for free.

  6. Flicker: This is not a place to host all your files. Just your photos. But, they now give a whopping terabyte (!) of space for free. No. Really. You can hose all your photos there for free, and never have that loss of important family photos when the hard drive crashes (as happened to me!). I am told that Shutterfly also allows you to store unlimited photos there too, but, I cannot find that they have apps for every device you own the way Flickr does.

My own personal tactic is to use my Google Drive for personal files, and my Box for work files, and Dropbox for anything on the iPad that works only with Dropbox, and iCloud for my music (since I own all iOS devices, this works for me).

Note that I am reviewing FREE services here. If you want to pay, then the options are endless, and you can pay for more storage in any of these services listed above, and also others that have no free options (such as ZipCloud and JustCloud).

Tip: sometimes on my iPad I may want some of my files for offline access, to be sure I have them even if Internet connectivity fails me. I use the app iFiles for that. It allows you to connect to any of your cloud storage space (all of these listed and more), and then you can download and store any files from them on your 'home' iFiles drive on the iPad for access offline.

Here is a good article on BYOD and the Cloud:

And here paid options are reviewed:

Image Flicker CC: Some rights reserved by stevie.gill

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