After posting Free tools for Teachers to Go Paperless, I got a couple of emails from some educators asking for some free cloud storage tools. Below is a list of some of the best free cloud storage tools that I deem as very important from an educational perspective. Just keep in mind that when I say free it does not necessarily mean that service is free in its entirety but that it might offer plans like a free basic plan with a limited storage and other pro ones with more storage capacity. For us in education, the free plan is generously enough and can allow you to store thousands of docs and data.
What is Cloud Storage ?
According to Wikipedia, " cloud storage , cloud data storage is a model of networked online storage where data is stored on multiple virtual servers, so that you can save your data in different servers and then get access to it from the one nearest to you, wherever you are. "
Advantages of Cloud Data Storage
Storing data on the cloud has several advantages. Here is a list of some of them :
- It lets users access their data ( photos, docs, files,...etc., ) from virtually any internet-connected computer, tablet or smartphone.
- Data is stored offsite and becomes available via a password-protected website which adds some protection to computer theft and information hacking.
- It is safer than local storage especially in cases of local damage, system crush, fire, flood, power surge or nasty virus.
- It offers realtime collaboration for people to work on their projects and files from different geographical locations.
- It also reduces congestion in someone's inbox, rather than emailing each member of you family a photo or a doc, you can for instance store all of them in one place and give them access to see them.
- Cloud storage does not require any installation, it is all done on a third party virtual server
- It also does not need any replacing, it is all stored in one place accessible from across different devices
- Some cloud storage systems offer backup and recovery systems
- It has no physical presence and does not require any environmental contiditions.
Some potential disadvantages of cloud data storage
Cloud computing in general is still a fairly new technology and it is possible that some concerns and security issues might pop up on your face while using these services. Here are some of them :
- The first concern is the level of security offered by cloud storage systems. Even if the the companies offering these services maintain that the data will be safe and secure, yet some hacking incidents have been marked recently putting to question the whole security issue.
- Guarantee of accessibility : users can not access their stored data when there is a problem in their cloud facility or if a cloud server is down. This problem, however, can be mitigated by cross using different cloud-based systems which could enable users to acess their data if a problem occurred.
- Access to your data relies on internet connection which means that when there is a problem with connection, it would also be difficult to connect to the cloud system.
I know that you are a bit scared after reading these disavantages of cloud storage and therefore wondering whether to use them after all. Well, cloud computing is just like any other technology; it is safer in some ways and less safe in others. Always store the same data in different services and use your common sense. Never store copies of confidential documents on the cloud and always use a strong password for your accounts. I am personally using several of the cloud data storage tools mentioned below and I am always taking my precautions for the rainy days. Go ahead and give them a try.
1- Google Docs
This is an inevitable service for educators. It is great and allows for a decent storage capacity. Be it PDFs, files, folders, docs, multimedia, photos , Google docs has a solution for you.
This is my second cloud storage tool that teachers can use to store their data and access them from virtaully anywehre with an internet connection. It also syncs your data across different devices.
This is also another great cloud data storage tool I use. It offers a 2GB free storage capacity and you can get up to 8 GB by inviting everynew user. It works on Windows, Mac and Linux as well as on smartphones and tablets.
This tool offers up to 5 GB of free cloud storage and when you refer someone to it you will earn a 500 MB bonus. It also supports Windows and Mac and works on iOS, Blackberry, Android and Windows Mobile.
This is a great secure cloud storage service that offers users up to 10 GB of free cloud storage. It also provides easy and secure collaboration and automatic encryption and synchronisation.
Ubuntu provides 5GB of free cloud storage and allows users to keep their content safe, access it anywhere, and even share it with other friends and colleagues.
This one here offers 5 GB storage and supprots multiple languages It works for Mac, Windows , and iPhone
SpiderOak is a free service that provides an easy, secure and consolidate free online backup, sync, sharing, access and storage solution for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux
This is a service from Windlows Live and can be used to store your data on the cloud for free and also to backup and sync your computer files.
CX is another awesome service that allows users to backup their files and sync them across multiple devices. Users can also share files and collaborate on them with their colleagues. The free accounts starts off at 10 GB.
Cybby is a wonderful web service. It allows users to store their files on the cloud and sync them across different platforms. It also allows for real time collaboration on files.
This is another wonderful cloud storage service that lets users store all their content online and access, manage and share it from anywhere. It offers from 5 to 50 GB of free storage.
This is a great file hosting site. It allows users to upload, download, manage and share images, videos, documnets and many more. The free plan offers 10GB of space and 10 Gb of daily bandwidth.
14- Amazon Cloud Drive
This is the official cloud data storage system of Amazon. It offers up to 5GB of free storage together with backup services but does not sync files.
This is another great cloud storage tool for you. It lets users store, backup, access and share all files on their computer wherever they are. It is also compatible with nobile devices and provides up to 5GB of free storage.