What is Online Storage And Why Do We Need It ?

You need to get that report out first thing tomorrow morning and it is knock-off time at the office. You’ve got a long train ride back home and would like to make use of that time to proofread the report on your Ipad or Android device and make minor edits. Finally when you get home, you’d like to open that same report and continue to work on it with the convenience of a full size keyboard and mouse.  How can you ensure that you are working on the same report across all your computers, devices and locations ?

Traditionally, when we worked on a document or spreadsheet at the office and wanted to bring it back home to proofread or finish up, we needed to copy the file to a USB thumb drive attached to our key chain, bring it back home, plug it in and resume work from the home PC. Or we might email the document to ourselves and open it at home. These days, we not only want to access our work at home and at the office, we also want to access it from our phones or mobile device on the bus home, sitting in the car waiting for someone or sipping a latte at the nearby cafe etc. Some of these devices don’t even have a USB port. This where Online storage comes in.

What Is Online Storage Anyway ?

It is a service provided by commercial data centers. We sign up for their service and they provide us with some storage space on their data center that is available 24/7 through the Internet. We need to download and install a small application on our PC or Mac. A special folder on our computer is designated as a Sync folder. Any files dropped or edited in this folder is automatically uploaded to our to our storage server at the data center via the Internet. The folder and all its contents are in turn available on all our other computers and devices where we setup this service.

The service is like a central storage that helps keep our documents, spreadsheet, presentations, music, pictures and videos in sync and accessible from all our devices from any location as long as we have access to the Internet.

Why Is It More Relevant Now ?

Online storage service is in fact not new and has been around for a number of years. Probably the most popular service was “DropBox” who made it really simple to use and gained a lot of fans, myself included. There are many other service providers like Skydrive, SugarSync, Mozy, Amazon, Carbonite and Google Drive.

However when they first came out, many of us were not able to totally jump on board. Internet access was still not as mature and many of us were stuck on expensive plans limited by how much we can download and upload. Internet access was not as easily available everywhere. There weren’t that many wifi hot spots and 3G coverage wasn’t that great either for all of us. What good is online storage if we can’t get Internet access everywhere we go ?

All that is changing as Internet infrastructure is growing at a phenomenal rate. Internet access is getting much faster and much cheaper. Good wifi hot spots are available at all major airports, hotels, shopping centers, cafes etc. Mobile 3 G coverage is pretty good and accessible from trains buses and all metropolitan areas. In fact we are now moving to 4G mobile networks.

We no longer have to worry about getting Internet access. Add to that, we have an array of computing devices, tablets, smartphone etc that we want to use for every occasion. We just want our files to be there on the device when we need it. Online storage addresses this very nicely. Online Storage is set to change the way we work and is definitely the way to go.

How Can Online Storage Benefit Us ?

A Safe Home For Our Digital Content  

Our data is stored in secure data centers. Most good data centers are built to certain earthquake and fire safety specifications. They have backup generators and cooling systems in place with CCTV and round the clock monitoring. Our data is not just stored on one single hard disk. It is replicated across several storage devices and sometimes across several data centers located at different geographic regions.  There are engineers on standby should something go wrong. Many things have to fall into place before our data stored in one of these data centers is lost. The humble $100 external hard drive kept in our cabinet drawer is no match for an online storage from a reputable service provider.

Access From All Our Computers And Mobile Devices

It is the easiest way to access our important files and digital content across all our devices. Just drop the file in the sync folder and its available on our other devices. Edit a file on one device and the service keeps it updated across our other devices. Most service providers also provide web access that comes in handy if the sync software is not installed. Hence if you are on a friends computer, you can just login with a browser and download your files to a USB memory stick.

Easily Recover If Your Computer is Stolen Or Damaged

Since all your changes and edits are uploaded to your Storage Server in real time,  if you need to replace your computer, you only need to install the sync software again, log-in to your account and you can access all your files again.

Share And Collaborate

Most online storage services allow you share and collaborate with others. If you so desire, you can obtain a public link for your file and give this link to a colleague or friend whenever you need to share a file with anyone.

If you have not got on board with online storage yet, now is a good time to try it out and see how it can benefit you.

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Related :
How to Pick An Online Storage Service