Like it or not, Cloud Storage is here and it’s going to become a bigger part of what you do.
Computer makers are pushing you towards it with faster but smaller hard drives and the new Ultra Books and Chrome Book classifications. Software manufacturers are driving you to the cloud as well by offering their products as Apps and discontinuing the option to purchase the traditional CD. Our desire to be connected to our data as well as our friends, nudges us towards the cloud. And finally there’s the simple peer pressure as our friends and coworkers brag and boast about how they used the cloud for this and then for that to great success. The Cloud sounds amazing!
FEAR THE CLOUD
Yet there are those out there that fear the cloud. That fear is based on a sense of security – or lack of it. If I put my tax returns in the cloud, what happens when the cloud is hacked? I get that. Those fears are founded in fact and rightfully so. I put the single most important tip deeper in this post make sure you don’t miss it. To that end, I will say this… Nothing is completely secure. Putting anything in the cloud is a calculated risk. You can minimize the impact of that risk by carefully choosing what to put in the cloud. Let’s move on.
CLOUD STORAGE – DROPBOX
Let me start by saying I LOVE DROPBOX! I really do. If you are not familiar with it here’s a post, and another post. If you haven’t signed up for the free version of DropBox here’s a link: https://www.dropbox.com/referrals/NTcyODI0ODA5 Notice anything about that link? Yup, it’s a referral link. Not only did Dropbox create something awesome in their product, they also came up with a viral way to get people to spread the word. For everyone who creates an account (even a free one) my referral link earns me a small amount of additional storage.
As you can see I’m currently running on 3/4ths of tank on DB. I believe the standard FREE account starts with 5GB of storage. What they hope is that after you try their product, you;ll like it so much that you’ll fill it up and then buy more storage. I can tell you, I would!
HOW I USE DROPBOX
#1 The Sync: My favorite use of Dropbox is the way it syncs the shared folder across all my computers and even with my smartphone. Example: The other day I was working on a header image for a blog I’m building on my Mac but needed a program I have on my PC. I clicked save, the folder synced automatically and by the time I opened the program on the PC the header image was already on my hard drive. Even better later that day I met with the client at Starbucks and showed them the image on my smartphone!
#2 Working with Clients: When I’m building a new website or Facebook App for a client I need their content. We setup a shared folder. Instead of them trying to email very large files (like images) they simply place them into the shared folder. That folder then synchs with my hard drive(s) and I have what I need to build their product.
#3 The Backup: Hard Drives fail. That’s a fact. While I have two very large external hard drives sitting on my desk right now you can’t be too safe. That’s why companies like Carbonite make the big bucks. Dropbox is also a repository for things I need to keep a backup of.
FACE YOUR FEAR
The good news is that Dropbox is secure. You’ll note the links and login are not http:// but instead they are https:// That little s stands for secure. According to Dropbox, that means Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and AES-256 bit encryption. Your data isn’t actually stored in Dropbox servers but on Amazons. Surprised? It’s ok. Take a deep breath. Amazon’s S3 servers are even more secure. It’s going to be ok (we hope). I know to most people that sounds way too techy. Let’s just say that’s a great step towards keeping your data safe. Want another?
PRO TIP: Enable two step verification on your account (click here).
Two-step verification is an optional but highly recommended security feature that adds an extra layer of protection to your Dropbox account. Once enabled, Dropbox will require a six-digit security code in addition to your password whenever you sign in to Dropbox or link a new computer, phone, or tablet.
There are also other alternatives to which I’ll expand on more in the next post. Want a teaser? There’s Evernote, Google Drive, Box.net, Amazon Cloud Drive, Cubby and quite a few more. What’s the best for you? You’ll have to wait for the post!