Has This Ever Happened to You?
(If it hasn’t yet, it most likely will!)
You just spent six hours working on a chapter revision and feel really good about it. The creative juices were really flowing and you were in the zone with lots of great ideas. Not wanting to lose any revisions, you religiously did backups every 15 minutes to make sure to safeguard those thoughts. The next day, you decide to make other revisions but when you turn on your computer, you get an error message. Later you find that your hard drive crashed and the information on it is lost. Your insights from research and readings, your new way of describing your findings…all that work gone, those ideas lost!
Don’t Join the Ranks of the “Data Losers”!
I hear similar stories repeated by colleagues and students alike about how updated drafts of articles, theses, and dissertations were lost because their computer malfunctioned. With the continuing advances in computing technology, this should never happen. With just a few simple steps, this scholar/student nightmare should be vanquished forever. Those hours of creative work drafting new ideas can be preserved by taking some simple steps to set up online data storage.
I have been there and done that as well. My backup system required me to remember to save my work manually. I was on a roll, in the zone, when the power was lost. Not having saved my work, I lost most of a paper that was in my opinion, one of my most creative works. Experience is the best teacher so I put a note on the top of my computer:
SAVE YOUR WORK! SAVE YOUR WORK! SAVE YOUR WORK!
Now, when I get “in the zone,” I can stay there, not worrying about losing my latest thoughts and ideas. In fact, that work is instantly available on my phone, tablet, and notebook computer so that I can continue to work on any developing ideas wherever I am!
What Is Online Data Storage?
Cloud storage is a service model in which data is maintained, managed, backed up remotely and made available to users over a network (typically the Internet)
- via SearchCloudStorage
Online data storage is usually referred to as cloud storage and is a rapidly expanding way of securing data. A good analogy to understand cloud storage is a bank checking account. While some still write paper checks for transactions, many use bank cards and online banking services to make purchases. When we make purchase, we probably don't think about the system that allows us to insert a piece of plastic into a point of sale (POS) terminal to pay for our purchases. The nice thing about the system is that we can access our money from almost anywhere without having to risk carrying cash. The system is encrypted to guard against hackers and is constantly upgraded to counter new attacks. While there will always be attempts to break into that system, it has less risk and is more convenient than carrying large amounts of cash. Cloud storage is like this but instead of money, it often holds something just as valuable to a scholar or student.
There are many excellent cloud storage options available and to attract new potential customers, most cloud storage companies offer a free "starter plan" that provides enough storage space for many users and will have options to purchase more storage space for heavy users. Your data is also securely encrypted to help keep it from prying eyes.
Advantages of Cloud Storage
Automatic Data Backup
Most cloud storage services include an option to set up automatic data backups. The automatic backups usually occur in the background and can be interrupted and resumed if the Internet connection is interrupted. Data is available whenever the computer is connected to a Wi-Fi (wireless) source or can be accessed by a mobile device via cellular data. You no longer need to remember to save your work.
Flexible Accessibility to Your Files
Another strength of cloud storage is accessibility, both by you and by those with whom you would like to share the information stored online. Most of the leading cloud services have a means that you can use to share folders of information or individual documents with others via an email invitation to share a folder or document. Some sites allow shared editing by anyone who has access to the document, making it easy to collaborate on projects. As the document is edited, the changes are both saved and an updated document is displayed. There is also a record of all edits and who made each change. In some cases, the collaborators can even talk with each other via a built-in chat feature.
It is not always necessary for the other person to have the same cloud service that you are using. What this means to you is that for group projects, committees, and other organized groups, you will be able to readily share documents with all members of the group. Further, you have the option to limit access to those documents. For example, you may have a document and only wish to let others view it while some are also allowed to edit it.
You will also have access to online storage from any of your devices including smart phones and tablets, and from public devices that you may use from time to time such as computers in the public library. Access means being able to get to the material, edit it or create and add new material.
While there are numerous cloud storage options available and more new ones surfacing daily, one important consideration is how well the cloud storage service integrates with other applications, especially in academics. Before getting a cloud storage service, check to see what smartphone, tablet, and computer apps can integrate it as a storage option. Check to see which apps that you use on your smartphone or tablet allow you to “send” or “save” to cloud storage or whether your work is automatically synced to a cloud storage service. Being able to search the web or a library database and save a web page or article to your online storage gives considerably greater flexibility as you develop a paper, thesis, or dissertation. Ideas come at the most inconvenient times and having a way to record and store them can make your academic work easier. As I write this post, I have a note on the screen reminding me what to include.oon the
Here is an example.
Let’s say you are working on a paper that will explore differences in compensation for men and women in different occupations. Most of what you find should come from published scholarly works but you may find some related material from organizational websites in the form of statistics or graphs that could clarify certain aspects of your paper. Website links or clips can usually be sent as files to cloud storage for future reference. If you are not able to send the information directly, you should be able to send it to a notes app that is linked to the cloud storage. Maybe you have a great idea and want to write about it on your smartphone or tablet. Use an app that automatically syncs to a cloud storage service. In any case, the key is to make sure that the service you use can synchronize with your data files automatically and allow you to focus on the important part without worrying about losing your work.
A rapidly expanding use of cloud storage is cloud computing and there are distinct advantages to using it. Users can both store data online for easier access and use apps such as word processing online. Everything is done online so it will require some kind of access to the Internet. Businesses favor this type of system for many reasons.
Just Plain Secure Backup
There is one other kind of online storage serves primarily as a backup to your computer data. These cloud services are heavily encrypted to prevent unwanted access and most also operate seamlessly with your computer, doing regular backups automatically. One nice feature about online backups like these is that versions of your files are saved so that you can go back to a previous session should you decide that the current one is not what you want. These backups are one more form of security should your computer hard drive ever crash and need replacing. All the data, including the operating system, can be restored from these services.
For academic folks, cloud storage is a wise investment for many reasons. First and foremost, your creative ideas that took many hours of hard work to achieve will be safely stored regardless of what happens to your computer system. Anyone in Academia knows how difficult it can be to try to recapture those elusive ideas and concepts, those fleeting “ah-ha” moments that all experience during scholarly endeavors. Also, whether you are a student, faculty, researcher, or combination of these, time is money for you. Why waste it trying to recreate what was a wonderful creative moment?