Now, you have probably heard of the cloud, but you may not be entirely sure what it is. This article will give you a pretty good idea, but what it boils down to if you do not feel like reading it is that through the Internet you can store and move files easily without having to keep them on your own computer. Rather, you will put them in the cloud, a huge network of servers and computers linked together that communicate with each other. Then, when you need whatever you have stored there, you can simply get onto the Internet and retrieve it easily and usually without hassle.
Now, this may not seem like much at first glance, but it means that storage is virtually unlimited: no matter the size of a file there is a place for you to store it, providing you have the bandwidth to put it up there and take it back down again. This means that your actual computer no longer needs to be where you store your files, and will run more efficiently. Instead, you’ll be retrieving data from the cloud with your computer or any other device for that matter. For example, you can shoot a video, edit it on your PC, put it into the cloud and then access it on your work computer or even on your phone. It is wonderful technology that makes life significantly easier.
As you can imagine in a field this revolutionary there are plenty of companies that have jumped into this market offering their services to the public. There are differences in quality and price, of course, but one of the biggest providers ones right now is Dropbox. This is partial because it is one of the oldest still existing and therefore very well known, but also because it has proven time and again to be very reliable. It is also very user-friendly and offers plenty of opportunities for beginners to learn the ropes at their own pace.
Once you sign up for Dropbox you will get 2GB for free to use as you see fit. This is quite a bit of data (to give you an idea: anywhere between 1000 and 2000 pictures) and should last you quite a while, but you can upgrade for a fee or refer a friend and get an extra 500MB that way if you find you need it. The nice thing about Dropbox is that you can either install a client program that runs on your computer to help you move things into the cloud or simply do everything within your web browser. Either way works fine, it is mostly about what you prefer. The process is more or less the same on your mobile devices, both the Apple Store as well as Google Play have Dropbox apps you can install so you can get your data on the go without clogging up your limited smartphone memory.
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And that’s really all there is to it; once you’ve set up an account you can start putting things into the cloud. Generally people will either store things they do not need straight away but might need in the future, or transfer files that they want to make sure they can access anytime, anywhere. In both cases, you are going to have a great filing system that can cross-reference folders and will help you keep organized no matter what you put in there. On top of that, you will be able to designate certain directories to always go into the cloud, a process called syncing, which means that certain important files will always be with you if and when you need them. This means that you will, for example, never again have to worry that you have left that one file necessary for a work project on your home computer, as long as you synced its folder with the cloud.
Which leads us to another great thing about syncing: you will have backups for everything you sync. A huge loss for most people is when something happens to their phone, their photos are lost forever. Were you to sync the photos’ folder on your phone with your Dropbox account, however, they would still be there and usable. Getting your phone stolen or losing it is bad enough, but at least by using your cloud storage you will still have your pictures and other information. Another example is your iTunes collection: should your laptop’s circuits fry because you dropped it in water or spilled coffee on it, your music collection will still be safe in your Dropbox folder. By putting things into the cloud, you are more or less ensuring that they keep there forever and gives your data some insurance against the slings and arrows of fate.
Dropbox is also very helpful if you need to transfer files: most, if not all, email providers will set a limit to the size of the files you attach to a message. With Dropbox, you can simply assign a folder as the one you share with another user and you can both access it at will. If whomever you want to share with is not a fellow user you can just send them a link to your folder and they can download it anyway. It is very handy when sending videos to family members or if you want someone to have all the photos taken at an event rather than just a few. It is also useful in a professional setting: there is no limit to the amount of people that can share a folder which means that large, international teams can work together like they were in the same room. A massive advantage for freelancers, of course, but also for more traditional offices when someone is home sick or cannot make it in because their car broke down.
These few handy applications are just scratching the surface of the benefits that Dropbox offers. Beginners will find that the learning curve is barely existent and the file management is really no different from what you have on your own computer. The best thing is that you can explore it at your leisure as the first 2GB are free, so what are you waiting for? Get your head into the cloud!