Last time, we discussed hardware solutions for data sharing issues. Software and cloud solutions provide a more flexible way to share data across multiple platforms. They also combine similar ideas to allow for backup, sharing between people, and sharing between your own devices.
Dropbox and YouSendIt are two software solutions that provide the desktop ability to share or move data between multiple devices. There is an added bonus of providing cloud storage for files as backup.
With Dropbox and YouSendIt, a desktop setup allows you to create a folder on various computers that will sync in the background. With such functionality, you can:
- Share files and documents with clients in a quick and secure way
- Provide inter-office file sharing without direct network access or a fileserver
- Transfer documents between home and office computers or mobile devices easily
- Provide simple off-site backup for the most important documents
Both solutions provide you a folder on your computer that allows for known and simplistic functionality. This usage is straightforward and comforting to beginners as it is simply another folder on your computer. Beginning and advanced users can automatically take advantage of the background synching which provides efficient sharing and storage with limited user interaction.
There have been hardware or physical data sharing solutions and there have been software solutions for data sharing. Now, mobile devices and the idea of the cloud have given rise to a whole new industry. Cloud storage has exploded as it has spread across phones, laptops, tablets, home networks, work networks, and everything in between.
The importance of cloud sharing and storage is seen in what companies are spending money to enter the market. Microsoft and Apple have both pushed their own versions as they move to extend their product stables. Skydrive and iCloud provide cloud backup and data sharing across multiple devices. Both of these cloud solutions provide some level of storage just for signing up for the service (25GB for SkyDrive, 5GB for iCloud).
You are given the ability to store certain files and documents and a website interface to access, view, and manage your stored data. SkyDrive also gives you the ability to email files and documents to someone, while iCloud is a personal storing and sharing solution.
With SkyDrive, you are given free rein on documents or files to share and store. Upload the files and documents that you want and access them on your mobile device or another computer at your pleasure (excluding open music sharing). iCloud restricts usage to Apple-based documents, contacts, and email through the use of Me.com emails, iWork documents, and iTunes based music purchases.
Now, while I just focused on two of the newer cloud storage solutions, don’t forget that there are several to choose from:
Figure 1. From LivEnterprise.com
And, as you can see, the debate is far from over…
There are benefits and drawbacks related to accessibility, security, and ease of use. You may always have the hardware solutions at your fingertips, but a cloud solution may provide mobile use that you’re willing to exercise without giving up any security protections.
The correct decision is as varied as the choices themselves. You can only make the decision based on what is best for you. That decision is made easier, though, by knowing just how many options there are to choose from.