I had an interesting discussion with a client today about computers, data storage and applications . It started as a discussion about online storage and backups and the idea of the “cloud” then moved on to online applications and moving entirely to the cloud. I won’t go into what the cloud is in this post, I’ll save that for later, but for now just think of it as “the internet”.
For a few weeks now I have been testing an offering called “Dropbox” which is an online storage system. I moved all of my business data to Dropbox so it is no longer stored on my desktop PC but is stored in the “cloud”. Dropbox offers 2GB of free storage for your data and offers plans for those with the need for more.
All I had to do was set up an account with basic information (name, email address and a password). I then uploaded my data to my new account. What Dropbox then does is setup a folder on my PC and synchronises the data on their servers with this. So now I have access to this data from anywhere; my desktop PC in my office, my MacBook when connected to the Internet (Dropbox sets up the same folder on the Mac) or at a clients via an Internet browser. I don’t have to remember to leave my desktop PC turned on to be able to access my data!
Of course, one of the major benefits of this is that I effectively now have an offsite backup of my data! If my PC gets stolen I just get another one and connect to the Internet, install Dropbox, login and it synchronises the data to the new PC. It also claims to offer an “easy way” to share photos although I have been having a fight with this bit!
Of course Dropbox is not the only one offering online storage, another one I am testing is “OpenDrive”. They start with a 5GB free plan and move on from there with various paid plans.
One thing I am trying to get my head around at the moment is the difference between online storage and online backups. Obviously with backups the data is stored locally and you just make periodic copies to the online backup servers, but why would you bother, doesn’t online storage offer the same thing but with added benefits? As I get my head around all this I’ll get back to you!
If you have any questions, comments or observations on this topic, please feel free to add them below.