Many of our patrons ask us about this mysterious thing called The Cloud. The most basic way to explain what the cloud is would be to explain Dropbox, one of the most popular cloud storage solutions to be developed.
Originally the brainchild of an MIT student who kept forgetting his flash drive, Dropbox was founded in 2007 and released in the app store in 2008. The idea was simple, “How can I access all of my computer’s data remotely?”
To put it in really simple terms, Dropbox connects its users directly to “storage computers” located at Dropbox’s headquarters. These computers (servers) store users data and make them available in many different formats so they can be accessed on different devices.
Dropbox offers a number of different cloud storage packages. The free version allows you to store up to 2GB of data and access it from any device. This would be comparable to having a small flash drive you don’t have to worry about carrying around. For people who need more storage, Dropbox offers a 1TB (1000GB) “Pro” solution for $10/mo. This is handy for people who need to share large files with their clients over email for example.
If you are interested in cloud-based storage for your business, Dropbox offers a Business Plan for $15/person/mo. Here at the library, we use Dropbox’s business plan so all of our employees can access important files on their devices without having a dedicated in-house server to manage. This is huge for businesses that are just starting out because they don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars for in house server solutions.
Another great use for Dropbox is using it with your mobile phone. A lot of people have issues with too many photos gumming up their phone’s memory. Dropbox has a great mobile feature that automatically saves photos you take on your phone directly to your cloud library. So if your phone starts to get full, you can delete all of the photos and videos from your phone, but still access them using either the Dropbox app or Dropbox’s new photo app Carousel.
Overall, if you’re someone who is frequently futzing with flash drives or having issues with sending large files over email, a cloud-based storage solution like Dropbox would be for you. We use it here at the library and we’ve never had any issues with losing files or accessing our Dropbox library. It’s also a great solution for someone who is frequently deleting photos and videos from their phone to save space.