If you had been using a computer a decade ago, you’d remember saving your documents to a stiffy disk, popping out the disk and physically moving your files to the next computer.
Life became slightly easier when your computers were networked together; however, if you wanted to get a file to a computer not on your network, you still needed move a disk around.
And while the capacity of the disks became bigger and their size became smaller – from CDs, to DVDs, and eventually to USB ‘flash’ drives – you still had to face several potential problems: making sure you saved the file properly, backing up, and getting the files to someone not on your network.
Fortunately, current technology has dramatically improved the situation and, together with the improvement of local broadband internet services, managing and sharing files has become extremely simple and cost-effective.
If you’re still relying on moving files on a disk or drive, or even emailing big files back and forth, it’s time you consider saving your files in the ‘cloud’.
The cloud is a technical term that basically means that you can access a whole network of servers on the internet, where your files can be saved and shared, while still maintaining a high level of security and confidentiality.
There is an ever-increasing number of cloud hosting solutions available.
Some are cheaper than others, and some are easier to use than others.
One of the more popular solutions is Dropbox (www.dropbox.com), which is a way to save your files and photographs online.
It also has applications that allow you to access and synchronise your files with almost all computer operating systems and mobile devices.
Any file uploaded from one device or computer will be almost instantly accessible on all your other devices, so think of it as a magical disk in cyberspace.
If you’re worried, consider that Dropbox uses secure protocols to protect your files and also offers a two-step verification process to prevent unwanted access to your data.
If you want several people to access and edit files, Dropbox allows you to share files or folders with other people.
If they make any changes, you will immediately be able to access the updated information (literally, similarly to a network).
You are also able to share files in read-only mode, so that they cannot make any changes.
In addition, Dropbox automatically saves different versions of files, which is very useful if you want to go back to an older version of a file, making it an effective back-up solution – although you should never rely on only one back-up solution.
If you have a mobile device with a camera, Dropbox can upload your photos to your drive, so that you can access them anywhere.
Cloud solutions such as Dropbox certainly make file and data management much easier. While you’ll need reasonably fast internet bandwidth and large data bundles, for the cost, it is certainly worthwhile.
With Dropbox, your first 2 GB is free, thereafter you pay about R110 per month to save 100 GB (that’s about 20 000 photographs).
- Marcel Oudejans is an entertainer, keynote speaker and soft skills trainer. Go to www.workplaylife.co.za for more tips on how to be productive.