Share and store data online – its the new age of file access and storage. There was a time not so long ago when the pen drive seemed to be an amazing invention for people like me who travelled a lot, whose work involved just the Internet and a computer, and who did not own a laptop for various reasons.
It allowed me to carry my files from place to place and work with any computer that was connected to the Internet. It saved me the time and effort taken to email my work to my own id from one computer and then downloading it from another computer that I used for work at another location.
Today however, my pen drive languishes in a corner of my desk drawer, forgotten for the past few months, and not just because I now have a notebook computer that I can carry around as I travel here and there. The reason my flash drive has become obsolete is because of online file sharing options that allow me to upload my files to the virtual realm of the Internet and download them when I want to.
Online file sharing
It’s just like email, except that most providers who offer this service allow you to upload many files at once. In fact, SkyDrive from Microsoft allows you to log in using your Hotmail or Live Id in order to upload and download files. The advantages of such a service are:
- Your files are entirely online.
- You don’t have to download any software or application on to your computer.
- You can access your files as and when you need them and from any location.
- You can share your files with other people and even work in collaboration with your teammates on them.
Probably the only disadvantage is that you have to explicitly upload and download the files when you want to store and retrieve them respectively.
And if you’re not too keen on this, there are other file-sharing services like GetDropbox which allow you to keep your files online by downloading an application to your system. All files that are stored in a particular folder created by this application are automatically backed up to the server. The pros of these applications are:
- Every time you update any of your files in this folder, the online copies get updated automatically.
- You don’t have to explicitly upload your files to the server – just saving them in the application folder is enough.
The drawback here is that you must download this application on any computer that you want to access your files from, unlike services that are completely online and where you only have to log on to the server to download your files.
Online file storage – a great option
Online file sharing and storage is a great option for people who need access to their work from various locations, those who need secure backup for their files, and for those who have a large volume of data that they don’t want to store on their computers but which they need to access frequently. However, because of security concerns, if your data is sensitive and can be used to commit fraud and online theft, avoid putting it on the cloud if you’re not sure of the security measures enforced by your service provider.
Some people also worry about server failure and that they may not be able to access their files at any given time or that they may end up losing their files for good; while this is not a major concern (since every online file storage service provider has adequate backup options in place), it’s best to have an alternative source to back up your files.