Most people may only be aware of the term file sharing in relation to torrents and the services that dominated the scene between 1999 and 2005. To them, file sharing may not have the best connotations, but the truth is that file sharing has a number of incredibly useful applications that are well within the bounds of the law. The new file sharing paradigm is facilitated through cloud storage services and private torrents. It allows people to share original content or big projects across great distances with little hassle; it has completely changed the nature of work and collaboration. Those who have yet to take advantage of all this just has to keep a few things in mind before diving in.
1. Free Versus Paid
Nearly every major cloud service offers free limited storage of two to four Gigabytes. That number may go up as new contenders enter the market due to the diminishing cost of storage space and bandwidth, but the free version of these services will almost undoubtedly have storage caps through the next decade.
That doesn’t mean the quality of the service suffers, however. In fact, a great deal of companies offers nearly all of the same features to both paid and free users; the primary difference comes in the form of storage caps. Sometimes bandwidth is restricted for free users, but those who can put up with longer upload and download times are set as long as they don’t need to store more than two gigabytes.
Cloud services allow users to set a list of who can and cannot enter their cloud storage space. In some cases, permissions can be set individually for each user, but for some services, it’s a binary switch where people are either allowed in or they’re not. The difference is that a service that allows the user to alter individual permissions enables him to put something on the cloud for others to download without giving all of them the ability to alter it, delete it, or add files to the folder. It’s getting harder to find cloud services that lack this functionality, but those who need this feature set should read the fine print just to be extra sure that these options are available.
3. Security and Reliability
Cloud storage services are some of the most secure businesses on the Internet. There is very little risk of server downtime or hacking. These things can still happen, but usually if an account is compromised; it is because of something on the user’s end. Cloud storage services use security protocols that are on par with some government institutions. As long as the users play it smart, there is little reason to worry about hacking or lost data.
4. Efficiency and Flexibility
Because of the nature of cloud storage, files can be accessed from anywhere on the planet as long as there is a stable Internet connection. This means that a businessman can begin working on a document at home and finish it up in his hotel room. It also makes communicating and cooperating with team members far simpler; if everyone has access to the same files, they can get their work done, upload it, and the project is able to continue according to pre-defined specifications. This is ideal for any mixed-media project that’s heavy on audio and video content.
5. Static Downloads
Not everyone needs a robust suite of features. Sometimes all that’s necessary is a small bit of storage space and a download link. Fortunately, there are plenty of services that are happy to oblige, and even the more robust cloud storage services offer the option of creating a download link. There’s no need for someone to open up access to a suite of files if he’d rather keep his cloud folders to himself, and there’s plenty of reason to make use of cloud storage services in order to meet personal needs.
Cloud computing is the revolution it was promised to be. There’s relatively little within the hype that hasn’t come true or won’t be true at some future date. Cloud services are only becoming better tuned to meet the user’s needs, and someone that needs to keep data safe or collaborate with other people would only be shooting himself in the foot for not using cloud storage services.
Image via: worldsstrangest.com[hr]
About the author: Janet Boyer writes for various tech blogs offering advice to those who want to learn more about cloud services and security.