Have you ever wanted to share a video with a few friends without making it publicly available? How about sharing a set of photos that are too large to email? What about accessing a file on your laptop from a smartphone? These and many other needs can be met by storing and sharing your files in “The Cloud.”
The simple definition of the cloud is a place in cyberspace, not on your local machine, where files are stored. For example, if you have Gmail, Yahoo Mail, or Hotmail, your emails are stored in the cloud. Technically, they are stored on the servers at Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft. But, from the user’s point of view, they are living out in cyberspace, not stored on the computer/tablet/smartphone where they are being viewed. The advantage of storing files in the cloud is that your files are accessible from any device in any location with an internet connection and the right username and password.
I had been working on a post that would highlight services that allow users to store and share files in the cloud. As it turns out, Richard Byrne recently did a great job listing and describing the most popular tools in this post on the Free Technology for Teachers blog. However, it should be noted that two services mentioned in that article, File Stork and Go Pileus, are no longer available at the time of this post. One excellent free resource left out of that article is Skydrive, Microsoft’s cloud solution that is integrated into Office 2010. However, you don’t need Office 2010 to enjoy the benefits of Skydrive. You only need a Windows Live ID. Also, Google Docs (mentioned in the article) has expanded into Google Drive, which is similar to Skydrive and is accessed with a Google ID.
My favorite cloud storage and sharing sites are Google Drive, Dropbox and Skydrive. What are you using? If you use a service other than those mentioned in the blog post I mentioned, please post it in a comment. Thanks!