Cloud storage is the storage of data on an off-site database that can be accessed via the internet. Rather than storing files on a laptop, disc or thumb drive, users reserve a certain amount of space on a remote storage system (a server), which is maintained by a third party.
The main benefit of cloud storage is that it allows you to access your files from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. You don’t have to worry about forgetting to bring a thumb drive to a meeting…if you have internet access, you have the files you need. You also have the ability to easily share your data with others, which is especially helpful for sharing files or folders that are too large to send through email.
The major concern is security. How do you know your files won’t be lost or hacked? Most providers of free cloud storage service have security measures in place to keep their system protected, such as encrypting files during transfer and storing the same files in multiple places to maintain availability even if one server is compromised. As with anything, it’s important to take responsibility for the security measures that are within your control, like selecting and changing your password and keeping it private, but most providers also offer paid plans if you want the reassurance of additional levels of security.
Here are a few cloud storage providers we’ve worked with and recommend:
Dropbox offers a free Basic account, which includes 2 GB of space and an app for accessing your account from mobile devices. Links to your files can easily be shared with anyone who has an email account.
Google Drive’s free service includes 15 GB of storage. Some additional features include continuous auto-save, real time edits/comments and access to a wide variety of add-ons.
Box provides up to 10 GB of storage for free. Invite others to access your folders and collaborate by commenting on files directly. Box also offers a few paid programs and add-ons.
This provider stresses their dedication to security and reliability…even for their free service.