This page explains what cloud-based storage services are, and provides some tips on saving data using cloud-based file storage services.
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing in general is accessing the computing infrastructure you need via the internet – “the cloud” – rather than paying for and storing everything on the device, an external hard drive or a server.
Cloud computing includes servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics and intelligence.
It allows more affordable access to business-grade services, as you can just pay for the actual service or system you need, rather than having to plan, buy, install, and maintain the entire hardware and software infrastructure around (for instance) just having a very large amount of file storage available.
Lifewire: What Is Cloud Computing?
What is cloud-based storage?
Cloud-based storage is one of the most common uses of cloud computing. It allows you to store content and information in “the cloud”, rather than taking up space on your device (e.g., computer or phone).
Most cloud-based storage services now have an application (app) that you can download onto all your relevant devices.
● The app or software creates an ordinary-looking folder on your computer.
● You can save your content into this folder, instead of the one on your local hard drive.
● The saved content is then and automatically uploaded to the cloud server. (This uses internet data).
● You can also install the same app on your other computers and devices, which allows you to easily access your files across different devices.
● The app will typically check back with the cloud location and will automatically download any updated files. (This also uses internet data).
● You can also see your files by logging into a webpage. This only uses as much data as it takes to display the file listing; the files themselves are not downloaded to the computer you’re using.
It means your information is always up-to-date, and always available to you.
This is particularly helpful if you regularly move between, for instance, a home office and a remote one. You can go from your home desktop to your portable laptop without anyone even noticing you’ve changed locations.
The most common cloud-based storage services are:
● Dropbox (for everyone)
● iCloud (Apple ID only)
● Google Drive (for everyone)
● Microsoft OneDrive
● You have an offsite backup of your content, that’s not impacted by fire, flood, or other emergencies.
● You have access to your files from anywhere that has an internet connection, across multiple devices.
● You can easily share files with others.
● It’s very quick and easy to ensure your content is centrally accessible.
● Most services track the changes made to a document in their folders, and you can generally “revert” changes to an earlier format.
● You can collaborate on content with other people.
● Every time you save a file to that cloud-based storage folder, you will use up your upload allowance if you are on a metered internet plan.
● As soon as that file is uploaded, all the other devices connected to the cloud-based storage service “synchronise” – update, or sync – their file listings.
● This means these devices download that same file to their own folders. This is automatic unless you turn this feature off.
● If your internet connection isn’t working, you may lose access to your files, or to the most recent versions of them.
● Files in the “cloud” folders are not backed up through local backup systems (e.g., Apple’s Time Machine). If you lose access to your cloud-based storage service, you lose access to your files.
● Your files aren’t 100% secure, as they’re being transferred over the internet and accessed via a username and password. Cloud-based storage is maintained by a third party.
● Internet use is calculated by both uploads and downloads. So, each time one file is synced, it’s counted twice.
In the above example, the picture and video files were counted as data when they were transferred up to the cloud, and then were counted again to download to the PC.
Then they were counted yet again to download to a separate laptop.
If one photo was 1mb in size, that photo has now used up 3Mb of your internet data.
Imagine what happens if you sync a 1Gb movie file from one device to two others; it would become 3Gb. One to upload from one device, and two more times to download to the other two devices.
How can I manage the data usage of cloud-based storage services?
Thanks to Cliff Tindall from Christmas Island Computer Services for the above information.
Tips and tricks for Dropbox
Dropbox is a file hosting service that works via the cloud
How to pause and resume syncing
Dropbox allows you to pause and resume syncing through the Dropbox menu in your menu bar on your computer.
When syncing is active, Dropbox will try to be smart about the amount of bandwidth it uses. Dropbox will use any remaining bandwidth available to download changes and only 75% of available bandwidth to upload changes. You can also adjust your bandwidth usage through the Dropbox desktop application’s preferences.
If you’d like to stop Dropbox syncing entirely, you can do so through an option in your Dropbox menu.
How to disable automatic photo uploads from mobile
- Open Dropbox
- Tap the Settings gear icon (bottom right)
- Now, tap on the “Camera Upload” option
- Turn the switch to OFF
That’s it. Dropbox will now stop automatic syncing of photos from your camera album.
Tips and tricks for iCloud
iCloud is used by Apple, it’s computers and devices, including iPhone, iPad, iMacs, MacBooks, and so on.
By default, these devices use iCloud to store a lot of their content; in particular, photos and videos. This frees up a lot of space on devices that may not have a lot of storage available.
However, automatically storing and synchronising photos and videos to iCloud uses a lot of data. Turning off iCloud’s automated services can help reduce the amount of data you’re using.
These computers and devices also automatically back up their entire system to iCloud, unless you turn this feature off. This automatic backup is very handy for upgrading or restoring your devices if something happens but can take up space.
Apple has extensive documentation on iCloud management.
Apple Support: iCloud User Guide
Apple: Change your iCloud settings
Apple: Manage your iCloud storage
Apple: What does iCloud back up?
Turn iCloud features on or off
Depending on which device’s settings you want to change, do one or more of the following:
On your iOS device (iPhone or iPad):
Go to Settings > iCloud, then tap to turn on or off iCloud features.
On your Mac desktop or laptop:
Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click iCloud, then select or deselect each feature.
NB Some features aren’t available or are listed differently in earlier OS X versions.
On your Windows computer:
Some features aren’t available on your Windows computer, or are listed differently, depending on whether your computer has Microsoft Outlook 2007 or later installed.
If you have Outlook installed:
● You use iCloud Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and Tasks in Outlook.
● Note that iCloud reminders are called tasks in Outlook.
● If you turn off Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and Tasks, the iCloud information remains available in Microsoft Outlook, but it isn’t kept in sync with iCloud.
If you do not have Outlook installed:
● You can use iCloud Mail, Contacts, Calendars, and Reminders in your web browser on iCloud.com.
Tips and tricks for Google Drive
Google Drive is a cloud-based file sharing system from Google.
Turn off Google Drive Syncing
If you have the Google Drive app downloaded to your computer or device, and you wish to prevent your documents and photos from automatically syncing to the Drive folder on your computer, you can turn off syncing.
Google: Stop syncing Google Drive files with Backup and Sync (covers computer, Android, and iOS devices).
Change how much bandwidth Google Drive uses
You can increase or decrease the bandwidth – the download and upload rates – used by Google Drive on your Mac or PC while syncing your files. Decreasing this bandwidth can allow more bandwidth for other programs on your computer.
Note: Changing the rate for downloads or uploads to a higher rate than your Internet connection allows may significantly slow other programs that you’re running using the Internet.
Tips and tricks for OneDrive
OneDrive is available as a downloadable application for any computer or device, including Apple Mac, iOS, Windows and Android devices. You need a username and password to use it.
If you’ve bought or subscribed to Office365 or Microsoft365, and have downloaded the applications to your computer, they will try to save their files to OneDrive unless you tell them otherwise.
If you have Windows 10, it will automatically try to save all your documents, music, and photos automatically into its cloud service, if you don’t tell it not to.
Microsoft wants you to store your data in the company’s cloud-based storage service. You have to change some settings to avoid this, as not only will it consume your data allowance, it will also start to charge you when you use up your available space.
Before you stop Windows from saving anything more into OneDrive, you might want to bring everything saved in there across to your local hard drive. This will use up data.
Go into your OneDrive folder/s and copy-and-paste the contents into appropriate folders on your local C:\ drive.
How to cancel or turn off OneDrive syncing
If uploads or downloads with the OneDrive website are taking too long, or you selected the wrong files, they can be cancelled. If you are using the OneDrive sync app and want to stop a file from syncing or backing up, you can pause the upload or download. You can also cancel uploads and downloads on mobile devices.
Detailed instructions are on the Microsoft website:
Turn off OneDrive for your documents, music, pictures and videos
Right-click Documents in the Navigation pane (must be the Documents library, not any of the folders listed below it) and select Properties.
In the resulting dialog box, select the local location (probably C:\Users\yourname, where yourname is your login name) and click “Set save location” button.
When you close the dialog box, your local Documents folder will be your default Documents folder. While both folders will be part of the library, new files will default to being saved locally.
Repeat and change the library settings for your Music, Pictures, and Videos libraries.