A cloud file storage application allows you to have your files stored in the cloud and access it from any of your devices from anywhere. Generally, a cloud storage service (like Dropbox) allows you to keep any file on your computer in a specific folder and access it from any of your devices- your laptop, desktop, tablet or phone.
Cloud storage services work in a way that they synchronise all your files locally to your computing device(s). The advantage here is that when you do not have an Internet connection you can still access the files and edit them locally. Those changes would be uploaded to the server when you get connected to the Net again. This is how popular storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. work.
Most of us use cloud storage services simply to back up files. However, such services have many other useful features too. For example, one can use Dropbox for sharing files and folders as well. Though many Dropbox users are aware of this facility, it is not used that much – correct me, if I am wrong.
Sharing files in Dropbox is pretty simple: access the Dropbox folder, select and right-click on the file you wish to share, access the ‘Copy Dropbox Link’ option and send the link to your friend/client.
Another Dropbox facility worth a look at, is the ‘File Request’ option, which allows someone else to upload files to your Dropbox folder automatically. For this, log-in to your account at Dropbox.com and select the button ‘Files’, which will display another option called ‘File Requests’.
If you click on this option, an input screen will pop up that lets you feed in the details to request a file from anyone on the Net. You can not only make a file request, but can also specify the Dropbox folder in which this file has to be stored (screenshot below). Note: the information regarding that target folder will not be visible to the sender.
Now move ‘Next’ and provide the email address of the person from whom you want to receive the file. When your target receives the mail, all she has to do is to just choose the file from her computer (or from her Dropbox folder, if she has a Dropbox account). Once this step is finished, the file will automatically fall into your Dropbox account.
Cloud storage as an external hard disk
Instead of being just used as a file synchronisation/backup tool, perhaps you may wish to use the cloud storage to expand your local storage. This is where the cloud storage service ‘pCloud’, comes into play.
The ‘pCloud’ service offers 10GB free storage space that you can increase to up to 20GB if you invite friends and family. It is one of the very few services, which offers that much free space (Dropbox offers only 2GB, for instance). Of course, the availability of free storage is certainly not the main criteria for choosing an online storage service. The advantage of ‘pCloud drive’ is that it essentially functions as a hard drive in the cloud. You can think of it as an external hard drive that is accessible from anywhere on the Net.
The service offers a client software (‘pCloud Drive’) that functions as an extra drive where you can place files that you want to make available to either yourself or share with others. You can either share files publicly creating a unique download link for the file or share folders only to specific people. You can fine-tune the access rights (like read only. modify, create, delete, etc), which makes it highly customisable. You can also protect the files via password and add (if required) a download limit to a shared link. Having a centralised hard drive with ‘pcloud’ is a nice addition, whenever you need some extra hard drive space.
The setup process
When you install pcloud it connects as a drive into the local file system and you can access it as any other drive. When you invoke the file manager (e.g.: Windows Explorer), you will find ‘pdrive’ also listed as another drive (screenshot above). And to see how much space is available with this drive, simply right-click on its icon and go to Properties. If you want to keep some files on this drive, simply drag and drop them. Once the file is dropped on to the drive, it will get uploaded instantly to the cloud.
If you want to continue to work when you are offline, ‘pCloud’ lets you add files to its sync folder. Files that are added to the ‘pCloud’ sync will get automatically uploaded to the server (like other online storage services). The beauty of ‘pCloud’ is that you are not limited to one sync folder; instead, you can have any number of sync folders .You can add new sync folders via the ‘pCloud’ client.
Before winding up this piece, let us introduce you to another cloud storage service called Sync. com, recently tried out by this author. The service offers 5GB (for free) storage and like other services in this realm, you can store/sync files across multiple devices and share files/folders with others. The distinct advantage of Sync. com is the importance it gives to privacy. The service claims that files stored on its server are encrypted using state of the art cryptography. As the files are stored in encrypted form it cannot be read by anyone other than you (even Sync cannot read your file).