Cloud storage has changed the way we work. The ability to automatically sync the latest version of a file across multiple devices (e.g. a desktop PC, laptop, mobile phone, iPad) is incredibly useful. I wish I’d made more use of it when I was a student, as manually transferring documents via a USB stick between my university and home computers was tedious to say the least. But since I set up my proofreading and editing business, I’ve made full use of the cloud – and it’s definitely saved me a lot of time.
In this blog post, I’m going to review three of the most popular cloud storage providers – Dropbox, OneDrive and Google Drive.
Dropbox has been around for quite some time now and is a very popular cloud storage provider. The Dropbox client is available for Windows, Mac OS X, Android, iOS, Linux and Blackberry.
It works by creating a local folder on your PC, laptop or mobile device that syncs with the online version available on the Dropbox website. You can access the Dropbox folder from an icon on your PC’s system tray which shows whether the folder is fully up to date.
It comes with 2GB of free storage which is a lot lower than what’s offered by Google Drive and OneDrive. If you want more space, you can choose a paid plan (the pro plan is £7.99/month and offers 100GB). There’s also various things you can do to get more free space – see www.dropbox.com/getmorespace. Referring friends gets you 500MB for each friend who signs up (up to a maximum of 16GB), installing Carousel, a photo gallery app, gets you 3GB, and installing the Mailbox app gets you an extra 1GB.
Google Drive is already set up for anyone who has a Gmail account and comes with a generous 15GB of storage space. The storage space is shared between your emails, photos, videos and documents.
As well as being able to access your files on the Google Drive website, a desktop app is available for you to organise your files. It works the same way as Dropbox, creating a local folder on your computer that is synced with what is on the cloud. There are also mobile apps for Android and iOS, though an app is not yet available for Windows phone.
You can edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations online in Google Drive which is a useful feature. It’s also very simple to transfer files onto the Google Drive website – you simply drag and drop your file onto the Google Drive interface.
OneDrive (previously called SkyDrive) is built into Windows 8 and 8.1 – you can access your OneDrive folder via the File Explorer. As with Google Drive, it comes with a generous 15GB of storage space which is more than ample for most university work. You can earn a 15GB bonus if you choose to have your photos automatically copied to OneDrive, and up to 5GB is available via their referral scheme.
As with Dropbox and Google Drive, it comes with a desktop app and there are also apps available for Android, iOS, Windows phone and Xbox.
As with Google Drive, OneDrive enables you to edit your files on the website using the online versions of Microsoft Office programs (for more functionality, there’s the option to use your own Microsoft Office programs to edit your files directly).
I’d recommend having accounts on all three cloud storage platforms so that your data is backed up in at least three locations (it should also be backed up offline too for extra security). My personal favourite is Dropbox as I find it very easy to use, but you may prefer Google Drive or OneDrive if you want more storage space – and particularly if you’d like to edit your files online.