To cloud or not to cloud

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A couple of things recently have got me thinking about the pros and cons of moving to the cloud.

Firstly, my professional website (e4innovation.com) has been hosted on siteground, for which I pay an annual subscription. Trouble is I have lost my password to access it and it is still registered with my old OU email account. I have contacted them to update to my Leicester email, so that I can access it. Also I seem to remember changing themes etc. is a bit fiddly. My personal blog (gconole.wordpress.com) is hosted by wordpress and I have found it much easier to use and I like the themes available. So I am thinking of transferring my professional blog too, as I can’t see the advantage of having to pay an annual subscription. OK I admit there is a comprise e4innovation.wordpress.com won’t be as nice a name as e4innovation.com but it seems a small price to pay.

Secondly, I am thinking of transferring my pictures to the cloud as one of the (few) disadvantages of the mac book air is the storage capacity. I am not sure what to use, but plan to look at iCloud and Dropbox as options.

So this got me thinking. What are the pros and cons of this? How safe and secure are these cloud services? To lose all my blog posts or pictures would be devastating!  But I guess these services are pretty secure, as they have to be right? What are your thoughts on this? Have others got similar dilemmas?

14 Responses to “To cloud or not to cloud”

  1. Mark Gaved Says:

    You get what you pay for. If it’s free, don’t complain if you switch on your computer in the morning and the service has disappeared and your data with it … or, accept that the provider will be getting it’s economic return for their servers through another means - either your data being mined and/or adverts coming at you.

    At the Open University, I am getting advised not to use Dropbox for work as it’s hosted in USA so under a different legislative framework and we may therefore be compromising our claims to offering participants in interviews ‘anonymity’ in our ethics forms when actually the service provider or the US authorities may view and copy the data elsewhere.

    My shout - use the services but treat them as if your data was on a semi public website (e.g. Facebook), and behave accordingly: would you put your next conference presentation up like that, pics of your family, confidential interviews with research participants?

    Also might be worth finding out if your university can offer an equivalent service?

  2. Roger Neilson Says:

    I store all my pictures on Flickr Pro, simple to upload and download from any device, high quality stored well and at around £12 a year well worth the cost.

    The sue of a dedicated phot storage site means you get loads of features that you won’t get with a plain we cloud storage.

  3. Emma Says:

    I’d be inclined to get an external hard drive as your main backup; Just In Case.

    If you’re uploading a lot from home, what’s your ISPs monthly limit? If it’s at all capped, a backup of all your photos could hammer it …

    I’ve not used iCloud, but I do use Flickr, Dropbox, Skydrive & Google Drive for various things … but most of them are elsewhere too …

  4. Gráinne Says:

    Good advice Emma sounds like a mixed approach is the way to go!

  5. Gráinne Says:

    Good advice as well Mark and Roger thanks!

  6. Lenandlar Says:

    Considering that most of your emails, social networking stuff and perhaps a few others are already in the ‘cloud’, then you are already risking a lot. If you have important documents, back them up before/soon after sharing. In fact, backup all that you cannot afford to lose. And remember to keep offline, what you want to keep private (my personal mantra)

    Go for it.

  7. Juliette Says:

    With photos, it depends I think how many you have (i.e. how much memory they take up - photos are large!) and also what you want to do with them. I’d have a backup somewhere else of photos though - with dropbox you have a copy on your computers that you sync anyway, so that’s not an issue.

    Personally I think it’s worth buying a domain name, given that are dead cheap, to make it easier to move providers for hosting, email etc. without having to change domain names, e-mail addresses.

  8. Gráinne Says:

    Thanks Lenandler and Juliette sounds like a mixed solution is the way to go!

  9. Richard Mobbs Says:

    I’ve used “cloud” service for many years and have always found them to be reliable. My email provider has “gone down” but not for as long or as frequently as my University email account.

    I started by sending email attachments of my presentations to my GMail account so that I had online copies for back-up and “remote” access. Then along came storage areas, such as BT’s Digital Vault, SkyDrive etc., but I have settled on DropBox where I like the integration with the iPad which holds all my teaching and training materials via the integration of my Mac/DropBox/iPad.

    I note Mark’s comments above about hosting and legislative frameworks. I know my own institution has laid the same “trump card” at some of our discussion in the past but our VLE, Blackboard, has recently moved to a hosted (cloud) solution and the OU student emails are now with Google. Several UK HEs and many FE colleges now look towards externally hosting email accounts. What has been the change of ethos? I’m sure it is not increased trust of cloud services but mainly for financial considerations.

    Until everyone embraces OpenID we are going to get the ongoing problem of too many passwords but I’ve used a site for a few years where my passwords are stored so I haven’t been let down yet!

    Do I have full confident in cloud services? No, even though I use established services. I have my own back-ups (2) of my local files and pictures etc and only put on cloud services my recoverable data. I still never turn up to a presentation without my slides on a memory stick (even two of them) but I have stopped carrying around my acetate slides!

    I like Juliette’s solution about buying a domain name but do pick on a flexible service provider. Although you may not want the power of MySQL and php today you never now what the future might hold ;)

  10. Gráinne Says:

    Thanks Richard sounds like the consensus is use the cloud but keep a backup!

  11. Amit Mistri Says:

    Hi
    I am not a professional user.
    But have found Dropbox very reliable so far with the “smaller” volume of personal use I put it through. Plus I have managed to increase the maximum limit by recommending some friends, and now have enough storage for my needs.
    I find iCloud cumbersome, but perhaps that is because I have not used it that much, hoping to explore the practicalities in the future.
    However, I do maintain external HD backup.
    Would be interested in the development of some medical case-based learning packages using novel IT solutions.
    BW
    Amit

    PS: Congratulations in the Fellowship!!

  12. Stella Says:

    Following the mixed approach, you might want to have a paid account in some of the cloud services. This gives you some peace of mind, and it isn’t as expensive as having the site, and you still get the perks of easy editing. My two cents. I think weebly.com has com interesting possibilities, which go beyond the blog.

  13. Stella Says:

    Netvibes creates an interesting possibility of aggregating all your places such as things you have in slideshare, facebook, etc. You can define tabs, and you can have both a public view and a private view, so it serves as an full environment.

  14. Gráinne Says:

    Wow thanks for all the comments and helpful advice! Amit thanks re the fellowship dead chuffed! :-)

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