Tech Devil: Move it to the Cloud

Move it to the Cloud

Just a couple years ago, when someone said “the cloud” you might think of the puffy, white things floating in the sky. Today, something else might come to mind. When people talk about “the cloud” today, they’re probably thinking about cloud storage. As defined by Wikipedia, cloud storage is "a model of networked online storage where data is stored on virtualized pools of storage which are generally hosted by third parties." This is different and more flexible than the usual system of storing files natively on your computer. Cloud storage allows you to access your own files, which could include documents, music, and photos, on any computer with an Internet connection.

There are many cloud services that have become very popular over the past few years. Box, Dropbox and Google Docs are all top consumer cloud-storage services. Microsoft and Apple now have SkyDrive and iCloud respectively. Rackspace is a big player in cloud storage at the Enterprise level, though Dropbox and Google Apps have been gaining clients. I‘ve been able to use Box, Dropbox and Google Docs, and I would highly suggest them for every student at ASU.

ASU has its own cloud storage system that provides 4GB for each student. This is found under the “My Files” link on your MyASU page. Every ASU student also has access to Google Docs through the university’s contract with Google that allots 10GB for each user. The good thing about this is that a file created inside of Docs doesn’t count toward that limit, only files uploaded from an external source. Docs also allows for collaboration on documents and presentations, which is ideal for creating study guides and group projects.

If you just need a place to store files and access them from anywhere, Box and Dropbox are better for you. Both are startups that provide what are commonly referred to as “Freemium” plans where you can get basic options for free but pay a few dollars a month for more premium options.

Box offers 5GB of storage with a 25MB upload limit for free with more storage available for $10 (25GB) or $20 (50GB) a month. Dropbox offers 2GB of storage for free and 50GB for $10 per month or 100GB for $20 per month. Now 5GB may seem like a small amount, but that could easily last students a while if you just upload papers and other important documents. Both companies often have free giveaways on their Facebook and Twitter pages, which are a good way of getting some extra storage space.

Cloud storage is growing like crazy and who knows how much storage you’ll be able to get a hold of over the next few years. Soon all your files will be stored in the cloud and we’ll begin to have slimmer and more-portable laptops on the market (don’t forget about Chromebooks). Security will have to be improved in some cases, but the growth is just beginning. The cloud is becoming more and more a part of our lives and will soon become something we take for granted. There will surely be more great tools available for students that revolve around cloud storage and access.

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