I created this web page on January 26, 2014
The traditional "the dog ate my homework" of ancient times has been replaced in the modern electronic age with "my hard disk died", "my laptop fell into the lake," "my computer was stolen," or some variation thereof. While any of these excuses for not having work ready to hand in may be a tall tale, no doubt in other cases it's really true. Hard disks do fail, machines get broken, and thievery is afoot. The material loss of the device can be financially painful for repair or replacement, but the loss of the work you have stored on it is usually even a much bigger headache. Sure, you can copy your material to a USB stick or external hard drive, but people often don't, or at least don't do that very regularly. Any those devices aren't exactly a 100% sure thing either. USB sticks can get lost or fried by static electricity, and you can drop and crash an external hard drive or lose it even easier than you can a laptop. That's why I recommend that everyone use an "off site" service such as Dropbox.com offers.
Dropbox.com popped up as one of the greatest ideas of 2010--now there are others like iCloud (Apple), Skydrive (Microsoft), and other similar services by firms like Carbonite and Amazon. All of these share some common features:
- Your data is stored on the vendor's hardware, or backed up there
- Some means is provided to store the data locally on your hard disk as well
- The data gets to the vendor's disk via the internet, usually "in the background," automatically
- You can access your data from any type of computer (PC or Mac), tablet device, or iPad
- The data is encrypted so it's stored in a secure manner, and only you can access it.
It's actually even better than that, because this kind of service is not just a backup mechanism. If you have multiple devices in different locations, such as a machine at school or work and another at home, and mobile devices like an iPad or tablet computer, you link each to your Dropbox.com account. Then when any of them are active Dropbox.com automatically synchronizes them and they all have local copies of your data! When I first started using Dropbox.com I was in Chicago but planning a trip to Los Angeles to visit my dear old mum, who is a widow and lives alone at the age of 88 at the time. I had a bunch of stuff on my desktop in Chicago, and I bought a new laptop out in L.A. All I had to do was install Dropbox.com out there and everything I had worked on in Chicago was downloaded automatically into that system. Anything I worked on out there was automatically copied to my system in Chicago. When I got back I went right back to work on that material without any need for me to cart around the laptop at home. The same was true when I spent 6 weeks in England in the summer of 2011 and carried a different, smaller laptop with me. Anything I did in London, Edinburgh, Broadford on the Isle of Skye, and at Aberystwyth UniversityWales was automatically backed up and made accessible on the other systems I use in Chicago.
I also find it really handy to be able to read material on my iPad that I have created on my PC. Since I have Dropbox.com on the iPad too, everything I create on the computer is available on the iPad too. I also have dropbox.com on an iPod.
Dropbox.com gives you an account and 2 Gb. of storage FREE! That's plenty of space to safeguard your college essays and other homework. It's not enough to store a lot of photos and movies and thousands of songs. But I'm not concerned with giving you advice on how to safeguard and access your entertainment items--I am concerned with things that can adversely affect your educational experience! If you're not using a service like Dropbox.com RIGHT NOW you're really missing the boat and taking grave chances with the work you are developing for the courses you are taking! Visit dropbox.com now and sign up! Then if you think you can get a better deal with some other service, investigate it when you have free time. There's really no excuse for putting off this action, get that 2 Gb. of free storage and start safeguarding against loss of your work NOW! I guarantee that some day, sooner or later, you will be very happy that you did!