If you have started to manage your digital life and craft an overall plan for maintaining your important digital stuff, it helps to have a place or places to store your digital files. This location could be on your personal computer or another physical location, like an external hard drive or a flash drive. While there are definite advantages to storing your files in an off-line location, you should consider storing your files in an online environment as well. Online storage space allows you to maintain your files if your physical file storage fails, whether through loss of your computer, external hard drive, or flash drive, or if your hard disk becomes corrupted or otherwise breaks.
But what type of online storage should you use? There are many options available for online storage and those recommended below all share the same characteristics:
- Free accounts with at least 2GB storage space
2GB gives you enough space to store a large number of text documents and a decent number of photos and videos. 2GB will not replace your internal or external hard drive on your physical computer, but it will give you enough space to keep most of your current files available online and backed up.
- Maintained by reputable, secure companies
All of these options are secure and haven’t had any major security breaches. That said, remember that your password for these services is your number one defense against hackers and others looking for personal data: see how to create secure passwords in this post. Make sure to read the user agreements before signing up for these services; if you have larger concerns about online privacy, then you may wish to explore other, home-grown options.
- Easy syncing capabilities across multiple computers and/or devices
Syncing allows you to access your files from many devices without having to upload multiple copies of your files.
- Automatic, background saving capabilities
You won’t reap the benefits of backing up your files if it’s difficult to do or requires multiple steps. These services allow you to create folders on your computer that will automatically save and sync your files to the cloud.
- Mobile apps for iOS/Android
All of these allow you to access your files from mobile devices.
- Sharing capabilities
These services provide you with private links to files or folder that you can easily share with others.
Online Storage Services
- Google Drive
You already have a Google Drive account through UW-Whitewater. Access it here: https://docs.google.com/a/uww.edu. You can create your own, personal Google Drive account through this link: https://drive.google.com/.
- Dropbox (https://www.dropbox.com/)
- Box.com (https://www.box.com/personal/)
- Microsoft OneDrive (https://onedrive.live.com/about/en-us/)