Friday, November 14, 2014

7 Benefits of Cloud Storage for Librarians

Are you and your coworkers saving your work to "the cloud"?  There are many services to choose from (see this article in CNET for a great review of the top four cloud storage companies. I personally use Dropbox, Google Drive, and Amazon Cloud Drive), but today we're going to talk about why this matters for libraries:

1. File Syncing -- If your staff do not use specific computers, they'll want this. They just work on their file, save it in the cloud, and then can easily access it from any computer. Similarly, staff can access important files like event fliers, staff schedules, reimbursement forms and brochures that will always be updated with the latest information, no matter who had worked on it last.

2. Easy Collaboration -- No need to worry about multiple versions floating around! Stop emailing files and tell coworkers to make their edits directly in the cloud so it'll always be accessible at the current version.

3. Retrieve Old Versions -- Did someone accidentally delete your file? Many of these services will retain all older versions for up to 30 days. Get it back!

4. Easy to Use -- Some are easier to use than others, but the concept is really simple to understand and even your most hesitant technology person will be able to use it. Many of them just look like another folder on your computer.

5. Online Access -- You can even find your files online, so if you need something (i.e. a presentation) on the go, you can use any computer from anywhere to get it.

6. File Hosting -- Want to send a large file to coworkers, colleagues, or patrons? Many of these services allow you to make a link so they can download your file.

7. Back-up -- Never lose a file again! Since it is on the cloud, if your hard drive fails, you won't cry a tear.

1. Limited Space -- As with all freeium businesses, it starts off free with limited space. However, you can save a lot of files with 2GB, so don't feel like you need to rush to a paid plan. 

2. Conflicting Copies -- If you and another person (or the file is open on another computer) work on a document at the same time and then save it, it'll make two different versions of the document; your version and theirs. Changes won't be lost, but it may take some time to notice and merge them together. (This is not the case for services like Google Drive, if you're modifying via their web application. There, you and your coworker can both work on it at the same time.) 

3. One Account -- While everyone can create an account, it does NOT make sense when you're sharing computers. The downloaded desktop app is not intended to be signed in and out by multiple people and every time you do it, it needs time to download everything that's been added. Unfortunately the business version does not take this work practice into account, so even if you do a business account, you will need generic ones for your multi-user computers.

4. Security --  It is on the cloud, after all. But even more than that, if you are using one account and someone leaves the library, you'll need to disconnect their personal devices from your account (if they attach it to their phone or home computers), and possibly change passwords. If you are using the free version, it will only prevent them from receiving new files and updates; they have to delete the files themselves. If you pay for the business version, you can actually run remote wipes.

So, there you have it! The good, the bad, the ugly - in 5 minutes or less!

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