A Box in the Cloud

By Vinny Alascia

The allure of cloud based storage is the promise that you’ll have access to your files no matter where you are. Of course you must have a connection to the internet and remembered to upload the files. Assuming these two criteria are met the cloud offers several viable options for your files. Some of these names should be familiar: Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive), Box, iCloud and Amazon Cloud Storage. One good thing is that all offer some limited amount of storage for free. If you do not mind spreading yourself all over cyberspace you could have a lot of storage in the cloud. However, if you decide to pick one and move all your data, the choices are not so simple. Much hinges on what your needs are and what platform your devices work on. I would like to take a quick look at what should be the deciding factors when choosing a storage service.

Interface

You want a service that is easy to use across all your devices. Automatic syncing and auto backups for photos are very desirable. Another plus is a service that seamlessly integrates with your apps and operating system.

Security

Look for a service that encrypts your files as well as one that offers a two-tier authentication to access your files. The provider should also have a clearly stated and accessible policy spelling out what they provide and the measures they take to protect your files.

Price

Free is good but if you want to consolidate you will need more space. This is where they get you. Look for the best value per GB and one that offers a discount for a year’s subscription.

Consider what you want from the service you chose. They sometimes get lumped together but an online backup service is not the same thing as a cloud-based storage service. A backup service is designed to work in the background and provide the extra measure of safety in the event of a computer crash. A Cloud service provides easy remote access to your files. They could be one and the same service, but in most cases one aspect is done better at the expense of the other. Whichever way you go remember to only choose a service that is reliable, reputable and gives you access to your files whenever you want.

Emerging Technologies is sponsored by the MCLC TechTalk Committee and is written by Vinny Alascia, Librarian at the Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records, and TechTalk Co-Chair. Visit the Tech Talk blog at http://mclctechtalk.wordpress.com/ 

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