Cloud computing for the rest of us

Many of us still carry around a USB memory stick to access regularly used files, whether for work or for personal use. I still do but these days only to simplfy instantly moving a file from one computer to another. The problem with a USB stick is that it can break, be lost, forgotten or stolen with a potential loss of important or sensitive information. A better way is to make your data mobile (in the cloud) by using one of the many free online storage services such as Dropbox or SugarSync.

DropboxUsing Dropbox is as easy as creating an online account and then downloading and installing a small application on each of your computers. This creates a folder on each computer called by default ‘My Dropbox’ located in your documents folder (although you can change this if you wish). This folder behaves like any other folder whether you’re connected to the internet or not but when you are connected it automatically synchronises all the files in this folder with your online Dropbox account. So whenever you’re online your Dropbox folder on each of your other computers is then again synchronised. This is handy if you regularly work on different computers e.g. at work and at home.

For convenience, your Dropbox folder can of course be added as a Library folder in Windows 7. Alternatively, you can access all of your files by logging into the web interface where you will also find additional features for undeleting files and setting up file sharing.

Dropbox offers both paid and free accounts. The free account provides 2GB of storage that can be extended to 5GB by referring friends or colleagues to the system. So, case in point, if you feel inclined to sign up, please use this link to give us both an extra 250MB.

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