Cloud Storage: Making File Access and Management Easy

As we rely more on computers and mobile devices in our day-to-day lives both at home and work, easy access to information and files that we have been working on has never been more important. Carrying files on a USB drive and moving them from a laptop to a computer or vice versa to make sure we are working with the latest version of the file can be cumbersome. USB drives get lost; sometimes they fail, and sometimes we simply forget them at home. Additionally, constantly deleting files and replacing them with the newer versions or emailing files to ourselves just so that we could have access to them from home, work or classroom, can be a chore.

Now it is easy to access the same file from your home computer, a laptop or a mobile device, such as an Apple iPad or a Samsung Galaxy Tab, using one of the cloud computing file storage and sharing services. There are a number of such cloud storage services, with the more popular being:


Dropbox (

Dropbox has become one of the most popular file storage services. It allows users to access files saved on one computer from all other computers and mobile devices where the application is installed. If a computer or a mobile device does not have the Dropbox software installed, all files could still be accessed through the web using a browser interface. The benefits of using Dropbox are numerous:

  • Ability to transport your photos, videos, documents anywhere
  • Share files easily whenever you need them
  • Allows file and folder synchronization so that files saved on one computer, such as a laptop, would automatically be updated on all other computers and devices
  • 2GB of free storage, up to 100GB with subscription
  • Support for PC, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android and Blackberry
  • Allows several people to work together on shared projects and documents
  • Allows working offline since files are downloaded to the local computer


iCloud (

iCloud is a service from Apple that “stores music, photos, documents, and more and wirelessly pushes them to all your devices.”  Files stored on the iCloud can be accessed from the iPhone, iPod Touch, a Mac or a PC. All email, contacts and calendars are automatically synced as well. iCloud:

  • Comes with every new Apple device
  • Is easy to set up
  • Offers 5GB of free storage
  • Purchased music, apps, books and TV shows do not count towards free storage
  • Allows subscriptions for up to 50GB of storage

Some of the other similar file storage services include, FilesAnywhere, Egnyte, and Windows Live SkyDrive, among others.

Cloud Storage Benefits and Considerations in Education

Cloud storage services:

  • Offer faculty and students real time access to files and folders
  • Offer an easy way to organize and manage files and folders
  • Allows users to start work on one computer, finish it in the office or in a remote location without the need to transfer files physically
  • Are available on mobile devices, so any pictures taken with a mobile smart phone can be saved to either Dropbox or iCloud and shared with students
  • Offers an easy way to share files with anyone; no login is required for publicly shared files

While there are many benefits and conveniences to using cloud storage, there are a few things that users should consider:

  • Because files reside on a remote server, security of these files is important
  • Users should take precaution not to expose sensitive information in those files, whether that information is private or institutional
  • The costs associated when more storage is needed

More information on cloud storage can be found here:

Educause 7 Things You Should Know About Organizing Files in the Cloud

The Complete Dropbox for Educators (The Chronicle of Higher Education)

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