I remember when the first flash drives/thumb drives came out. They held about 128 mb of data, and cost about $80. I remember thinking, “What a gimmick – those will never catch on.” Was I ever wrong about that! Now, less than 10 years later, the humble flash drive is becoming obsolete.
You have probably heard about “cloud computing”. This just means that your data is not stored on your computer’s hard drive, but on another server accessible via the internet (in the “cloud”). One way to do that is through Google Docs (www.google.com/docs).
For a long time, you have been able to create and edit documents and spreadsheets (and other types of files) through the Google Docs service. It’s completely free – all you need is a Google account (if you have a Gmail email address, that’s also your Google Docs account).
Now, Google is giving you the ability to store any type of file. You can store music, videos, photos, or you can put a bunch of files into a .zip folder and store that folder. You get up to 1 gb of space, and the maximum individual file size is 250 mb. Need more space than that? Just open another free Google account.
To use this service, just log into your Google account and go to www.google.com/docs. Look for the Upload button:
Select the files on your computer that you want to upload, and click “Start Upload”. Once it’s finished, your files are stored. Now, you can access those files from any computer that has an internet connection just by logging into your Google account.
So if you’re one of those geeky people that carries a flash drive all the time (talking to myself here), you really don’t need to do that any more. Your data can be accessible from anywhere.
A couple of applications:
- This is a way to do a quick backup of something important, something you cannot risk losing. This is actually probably safer than storing on a flash drive, since flash memory can fail eventually.
- You can choose a particular file that is stored in Google, and give other people permission to access it. There are different levels of access (all determined by you, the owner of the files) – they can just read it, or they can have the ability to edit it. Makes for a great way for multiple users to collaborate on a document.