Saturday, June 16, 2012

What’s the Easiest-to-Use Cloud Storage Solution for Administrators and Educators?

My flash drives, and I have at least 10 of them, haven't  been out of my laptop bag in over a year. Why? Cloud storage. Lots of cloud storage. I have found myself with Dropbox, Google Drive, Windows Skydrive, and Amazon Cloud Drive accounts. I also have an iCloud account. But even with all these different accounts, I have been an avid user of Dropbox since I discovered it well over a year and a half ago. Once I installed the desktop client, I have been saving all of my files to my Dropbox folder so I can have access on every device I use. It is like I have this virtual file cabinet that follows me everywhere.

What made me write about this topic today was a conversation I had with a group of teachers and administrators who did not know what Dropbox was. I could not believe they have not heard of it, but I am sure there are many yet who haven't found the ease and comfort that comes with using cloud-based storage. Also, I am sure there are some who have not yet reached the point that they can let go of those flash drives.

While there are all kinds of reasons for using a cloud-based storage option like Dropbox or Google Drive. Here's My Big Three:
  • Any-device and any-time access to my files and folders. I can take a photo with my Android tablet, and place it in my Dropbox folder. Then, I can access it on my iPad, both of my laptops, and any computer by signing in to my Dropbox web account. Who needs flashdrives? If I were employed at a company that manufactures these devices, I would be looking for a job.
  • Sharing of files and folders. Both Dropbox and Google Drive allow me to share files and folders in my Dropbox account. This means I do not have to keep sending an updated copy of my Parent-Student Handbook to my teachers. I just update it and save it to the school docs folder I've shared with them. Sharing files easily is one of the reasons to use cloud storage. Only my Amazon Cloud Drive does not currently do this.
  • File and Folder Syncing across devices and PCs. This has to be one of biggest advantages of cloud storage solutions. If I type a document at home, save it to my Dropbox, it will be on my desktop at work, and it will be on my iPad, my Galaxy Android Tablet too. This is another reason I wouldn't be seeking a job at a business what manufactures flashdrives.
So what is my favorite Cloud Storage solutions? I think that's rather obvious, but here's a comparison of four I have tried.

  • Easy to use
  • Desktop program installs with little set up
  • Syncs across all devices: PCs, Android, OS devices
  • Share files and folders with others (Though I hear this feature will no longer be available to new users after July 31st)
  • Opinion: Easy to set up, easy to use, easy to access, easy to share. Simplest of cloud storage solutions.
Google Drive
  • Easy to use and set up
  • Desktop Program installs with little set up
  • An iPad and iPhone app not yet available
  • Android app available
  • Syncs across all devices
  • Access to Google Docs too
  • Share files and folders with others
  • Opinion: Easy to set up, easy to use, access to Google docs is a plus, syncing of files works great, sharing is easy, Android app works great, no iPad app yet.
Windows SkyDrive
  • Easy to set up
  • Syncs across PCs
  • No Skydrive Android App, Third party apps available but work quirkily
  • 7 GB of storage
  • Opinion: Web interface is complicated. Syncing of files and folders works fine. iPad app works well. Sharing is complicated and there is no reliable Android app.
Amazon Cloud Drive
  • 5 GB of storage space
  • Easy to upload files to Cloud storage
  • No syncing of files and folders
  • No Android App, no iPad or iPhone app
  • Mostly just a cloud storage option
  • Opinion: Great for backup and storage, no syncing of files, no sharing of files, great for backup of files though. No apps for desktop or other devices. Completely Web based.

What's my final verdict? I would use either Dropbox or Google Drive, with Dropbox having the edge because I've used it longer and it is currently the only cloud storage option that has both Android and OS apps. It looks like it is time to retire those flash drives!


  1. Dropbox, Google Drive and Sugarsync are my favorites. One of the great features of Sugarsync is the ability to edit a file in your account using software on your computer and then have it automatically updated to your account (without downloading the file).

    Dropbox is one of the easiest to use and the selective sync option is great. For example, I have Dropbox on my home computer with my files backed up to it, but I only sync the "School" folder to my school PC so that my personal files aren't synced to school.

    Here's my list of a whole lot of cloud storage solutions:

  2. I think Dropbox and Google Drive are the main competing sync services when it comes to the academe, simply because of its user-friendliness and ease of access. Dropbox is particularly easy to use, as you only need to drop and drag files to sync and it can easily generate links to share files even to non-Dropbox users or those who aren’t logged in to their accounts at the moment. While Google Drive may not offer that kind of flexibility, the fact that you can actively edit your documents while other people are accessing it at the same time can help in updating records in active time, and the editing tools available can be quite convenient, especially the option to backtrack and undo unintended edits or deletions.

  3. Google Drive is a godsend when it comes to making a centralized way for students to upload their projects and assignments. And since content sharing is controlled by the original author of the file, viewing other people’s content is next to impossible, unless the original owner allows it.