Using “the cloud” for online file storage and syncing

What can “cloud computing” offer to technical editors? Quite a lot, I think. I’ll be writing more about this topic as I get more involved in using different features.

At the moment, the main items of interest to me are those related to syncing files between two or more computers, preferably with Web access to the files so I can get to them when I’m using someone else’s machine. Having Web access to files means, of course, storing copies of those files on someone else’s server, which has the added advantage of providing offsite storage for disaster recovery purposes. I’d also like to have a way to share a subset of those files with other people.

I haven’t had time to get any automated backup and syncing system working, or even thoroughly research what my choices are, but most of the choices that I’ve been aware of have been either Windows only, or Mac only, or so geeky to implement that I’m not interested. However, that seems to be rapidly changing.

One possibility is Dropbox, which works on Windows, Mac, and Linux and even has an iPhone app—as well as “mobile-optimized” versions for Blackberry and other Internet-capable mobile devices. I’ve been using Dropbox in a very limited way for some time (free space is 2GB, similar to most other services I’m aware of), but I’m now considering using it for more files even if I have to pay for more storage space.

(If you should choose to use Dropbox, please register using the link above so I get some extra free storage space out of the deal… and you do, too.)

Because I use Ubuntu Linux for the vast majority of my work, I’m also considering Ubuntu One and have just signed up for an account to try it out. Like Dropbox, Ubuntu One provides 2GB of free storage, and the pricing for more space is similar to the pricing for Dropbox. I don’t know yet what the limitation are for using it when Ubuntu isn’t available.

Syncing bookmarks using Xmarks

For over a year I’ve been using Xmarks to sync my browser bookmarks between my various computers and have access to them from other computers and my iPhone. Xmarks began as a Firefox add-on called FoxMarks, but it now supports Safari, Internet Explorer, and Google Chrome as well.

That’s enough for today.

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