Google Drive, Dropbox, & Cloud Storage

Google Drive, Dropbox, & Cloud Storage

Yesterday Google Drive was finally announced. I’ve been a big proponent of Google Docs in our K-12 and higher education classrooms. Additionally, I’ve discussed with many of you the need to consistently back up your computer. Let’s just say it bluntly right away…you need to back up your machine. It’s not a question of IF…but WHEN will your computer fail? If you have all of your docs, music, PICTURES, videos all on one machine…how will you feel when they’re all gone? Back up now.

You have many choices when it comes to backing up. First, you should have a local, external hard drive that you plug in and back up to. They’re relatively inexpensive an can be picked up at your local electronics store. You should also have an off-site backup of your materials as well. This is in case of a catastrophe in which your home, or office is destroyed. There are several good options for an off-site backup as well. Crashplan is an option I’ve been weighing lately for my entire family. Dropbox is another great option. Dropbox provides an online folder which can be used to sync files across multiple machines.  Basically Dropbox is an online flash drive, or thumb drive. Instead of carrying around that little fob with your materials for the day or week…you can load it all to Dropbox and access it at school, home, work when you need it. Google Drive was just launched and replaced what previously was only known as Google Docs. As I stated earlier, Google Docs is a great option for our classrooms and provides a powerful tool for students to work, collaborate, and share student work product. Google Drive also allows you to purchase extra storage pretty inexpensively. There are many other options for you to chose from if you plan on purchasing online storage to back up your data and make it more portable. I would suggest reading posts from The VergeThe Next Web, and Engadget if you want to learn more.

What I would like to spend the remaining time with you discussing is what this means for you…and what possible choices do you have? Let’s keep it very simple for purposes of our discussion. Many of you have a computer (Mac or PC)…and a tablet…and have about 2 to 5 GB of data that you need access to. If you check the size of the folder you have all of your documents stored in you can quickly figure out how much space you’ll need. If you’re this type of user…Dropbox or Sugarsync might work great for you. Basically it will automatically make your files appear on both devices…and through their website. This option will cost you nothing…you’ll just need to set up the services…and maybe invite a couple friends…email me for support.

If you are the type of user that has taken my earlier suggestions to use Google Docs to heart and has numerous files all over Google Docs…then Google Drive is for you. The problematic part about Google Docs is that organization of these files has been a nightmare…up until now. What Google Drive does is it creates a drive on your computer…and will download all of your “stuff” that you had saved or created in Google Docs. This makes it easier to organize your files into something that makes sense. It also allows you to move files from your computer into Google Drive. What I’m currently doing is downloading all of my materials from Google Drive to my machine. I’m then going through and deleting all of the stuff that I really don’t need anymore. I also have the option of syncing only selected folders from Google Drive to my machine. Finally, I am moving over the Documents folder from my machine to Google Drive and uploading it. So…at the end of a couple days…I will have one folder of documents. This folder will exist on my MacBook Pro, in the cloud (Google Drive), on my phone…and soon to be on my tablet.

There are a couple other really exciting uses for education, but you have enough to digest right now. By all means, please contact me with questions or guidance in any of this. For more perspective on these changes, please read the great post on Hack Education by Audrey Watters.

I’ll be back in a couple of days to discuss why you should be using Google Drive, Chrome…and some of the new apps for Chrome.

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