Posted By: Jason Liu on January 26, 2011
Have you ever needed your access to your computer documents but didn’t have your laptop with you? One quick and easy solution would be to take advantage of free cloud computing services. Cloud computing gets its name from the fact that the data storage/applications processing is done remotely on a server and is not hosted or dependent on your own (client) computer – in other words, the data/service is “up in the clouds”.
Cloud computing provides a great service that many students within the Commerce program have used to increase their personal productivity as well as group productivity.
A very popular option for basic and free cloud computing is Dropbox.
I will briefly outline the two main advantages of Dropbox below:
Using Dropbox as “mobile” data storage
Dropbox creates a folder on your computer as well as a duplicate folder on their server. Any files you put on your local Dropbox folder (the one on your computer) will be replicated in the server folder. What’s neat about this is that you can logon to the Dropbox website with your credentials on any computer, upload some files, and those files will also be replicated onto your personal computer (assuming that it is connected to the internet) in real time. This way, you will have access to your documents anywhere you go as long as you have an internet connection – think of it as an online USB that’s always updated based on what you have on your computer. You can also install Dropbox on multiple computers and all the computers will share the same files, based on your Dropbox login credentials. In the same fashion, any files added to the Dropbox folder on one computer will be replicated on the server, as well as on all other computers that are registered to that account in real time, assuming that these computers are connected to the internet. If the other registered computers are not connected to the internet, Dropbox will reconcile the files the next time the computers have access to the internet.
Using Dropbox for collaboration
Not only does Dropbox allow you to sync multiple computers, you can even “share” folders with other users. For example, if I were working in a group project, I would share a folder with my group members that we can all use to submit our content as well as to read other people’s content. This way, If I ever need any files from my group members, I can just look inside the Dropbox folder instead of emailing them for it. This saves a ton of time.
How to get started?
You can download Dropbox here. With a free membership, you will receive 2GB to start. If you refer another person to use Dropbox, you will receive an extra 250MB. If you register as a student (.edu or any other authenticated educational institution i.e. queensu.ca) you will receive double per referral.
Software like Dropbox is becoming widely popular in the technology world as many companies (including Google) believe that cloud computing will be the the future of personal computers, making personal computers more bare-bones and server computing more robust.
The collaboration aspect of Dropbox makes it a must-have for Commerce students who want to increase group productivity.
A similar program to Dropbox is Evernote – an easy way to take notes in class and sync it with multiple computers.