Once you’ve set up your office in the cloud you’re going to start needing to share things: documents, contracts, graphics, video, and depending on your line of work that could all add up quite quickly. Today almost 625 terabytes of data are transferred across the Internet every 60 seconds (that’s 625 trillion MB, if you’re interested), and with the number of connected devices forecast to reach two for every human being on the planet by 2015, the information superhighway is going to get more and more crowded every day. To make sure that your data gets where it needs to be, I’ve picked out a filing cabinetful of great ways to save and share various different file types.
If you have a large file to deliver to a single recipient WeTransfer.com lets you send one, or a collection of files, up to 2GB in total. There’s no sign-up needed and when the file is uploaded it will email you a link that you can share with more people. You’ll also be notified by email when the file has been downloaded. Sending files this way means that they are stored online for the recipients to download at a time that is convenient for them, rather than their trying to pick up a 2GB attachment when they are out on a mobile connection – which will not make you very popular at all. While your files are uploading, the website’s background image changes constantly, so it looks rather pretty while it’s working too.
Another way to send files up to 2GB in size, JustBeamIt lets you set up a direct link to another person’s computer to funnel the data through. The technology is known as a peer-to-peer service – you may recognise the name from reports about pirated music, movies and software. This service is both completely legal and very simple to use. Just tell it which file you want to send, and you’ll get a link that you can give to whomever you want to be able to download it. You can send this link by email, SMS, instant message, whatever you like; the key here is that you must leave your computer turned on with JustBeamIt active until the person you are contacting has opened the link and downloaded the file straight from your machine. The download is free and the service is very secure, as you are sending the file person to person, without it passing through anybody else’s server.
For images that you want to post in blogs or share through your social channels, Imagevat is a fuss-free solution. No sign-up, just choose a picture and away you go. There is no option to make images private but you can note copyright details in the comments, as well as contact details for more information. Once the image is uploaded you get a link and various embed codes to use around the web. The service offers unlimited web space and bandwidth which could prove very handy if your image becomes an Internet sensation.
TIP: Uploading images and videos to external content-hosting sites and then embedding them on your own website or blog means that everyone who views the content will be eating away at the host’s data bandwidth rather than your own (ed: the flipside of which is if the hoster goes down or goes bankrupt, you lose your files)
Dropbox is a storage solution that connects a folder on your desktop to some space in the cloud. This is incredibly useful if you work across several computers in different locations, as you can install the app on any machine and link it up to your folder. You can share folders with collaborators, making it the perfect online filing cabinet, and any changes made to files are synced immediately, right across the web. Dropbox also has the benefit of being a veteran in what is becoming an ever more crowded space, so you’ll find a few useful business tools that have Dropbox integration – as we’ll see in the next few chapters. You get 2GB of free storage, going up to 16GB by referring friends. It’s available for MAC and PC with Android, Apple and BlackBerry smartphones covered – and for $10 a month you can upgrade to 50GB of storage. If you’re going to be sharing your folders with other people there are a couple of useful monitoring tools that you should make use of:
http://dropbox.com/account is a web page where you can see exactly which computers and mobile devices are linked to your account and if you head to http://dropbox.com/events you’ll be able to track all the recent activity within your folders.
TIP: You can make your Dropbox account even safer by activating the “two-step verification feature”, either by downloading the smartphone authentication app or by submitting your mobile number in order to receive a temporary access code when you want to log on. Lots of data storage sites now offer this feature, including Google, and you’d be wise to activate it wherever possible, as it means that intruders would need more than just your password in order to steal your data.
ZumoDrive is a similar deal, with 2GB of free storage and the choice of Windows, MAC and Linux downloads. It also has interesting sister service, Zumocast. Zumocast is a free download for Windows, MAC and Linux machines that turns your computer into a peer-to-peer server, letting you transfer or stream media instantly without the need to upload or synchronise files to any online drives. It effectively turns your home computer into a cloud drive, though your machine must be fired up and working properly for you to access it remotely. As well as being able to transfer files, you can stream all your music and video, which is scanned and referenced by the software when you first install it. To top it all, free apps for Android and Apple mobile devices mean that you can hook into your files and media on the move – although be aware of data costs when streaming music and video over a mobile network, which can be very expensive.
Sometimes you’ll want to share files with a group of people, or give people a choice of photos or images. Rather than pushing all the information out to everyone, use Minus to set up an online stash box so that invited users can review the posts and download only the content they need. As well as for team work, this is a great way for families to share photographs from a wedding or big celebration. The ‘drag and drop’ interface, which lets you drag file icons with your mouse pointer and just ‘drop’ them into the website’s upload box, makes adding files quick and easy, even for a novice. With a desktop app available for Windows, MAC and Linux, mobile apps for Apple and Android, plus a whopping 50GB of free storage to start you off, this has to be high on the list of essential online team resources.
This is an extract from Kate Russell’s new book, “Working the Cloud: The Ultimate guide to making the internet work for you and your business”. The book is available from Amazon both as paperback and Kindle Edition. Ms Russell is a freelance technology reporter, better known for her Webscape segment on BBC’s technology show, Click.