Back up your files in the Cloud

Students rarely back up their files regularly, and it is common for many of them to complain that their projects were lost because their laptops were destroyed by viruses or hard drive failures, or lost as they lost their copy of the files when they lost their flash drive. And not only students, but teachers too – especially in a fully laptop environment, which is the type I am working in.

I am a great advocate of cloud storage synching for two main reasons:

1.       The files I can’t afford to lose are backed up the instant I have saved and closed them.

2.       I don’t need to take my work laptop home nor copy files into a flash drive, then worry about which version of my file is the latest – on my home computer, in the flash drive or on my work computer?

My first research into cloud storage led me to use Dropbox offering 2GB free, then the beta version of Live Mesh from Microsoft trumped it with 5GB.  Live Mesh now provides two services, firstly synching several computers together regardless of size, and secondly offering 5GB free synching as part of the 25GB SkyDrive option. Dropbox is still offering 2Gb and is available on Macs (including iPad), Linux (Ubuntu, Fedora and others), and  mobile phones. With referrals, you can now earn up to 8 GB free. I found it easier to set up Dropbox than the new Live Mesh, so that again became my first choice.

Until this week. For a larger free storage space up front, you might want to look at SugarSync, which provides 5GB free. You can link as many devices to the free account as you wish. As a default it provides a separate area for backing up files on each device. You can use the Magic Briefcase area for automatic synching of files on all devices – the most useful part for my purposes.

Although there is no linux version, it is possible to access the files via the web interface. It just won’t automatically synch any files you use on linux, but you can add files from your linux computer. There is an app for Android phones, and the photos taken on my phone can be accessed immediately by the other devices. As with Dropbox, you can share files and folders with others for collaboration.

A useful feature is you can email a file to your SugarSync account and it will appear in a separate folder – no need to download files from the email first. It will also allow you to play music files directly from the website – so no need to use up precious sd card space on your mobile phone to listen to your music. You are encouraged to not only read about their features, but they will give you an extra 250 Mb if you try out some of their features. An excellent incentive to do so!

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