Online Storage

There are many online storage / file sharing solutions out there and they can be very useful. Choosing the right one is probably the most important decision you will ever make in your entire life, never mind while you are at university. So here are some options.

All of these systems allow you to access your files from any device where you have installed the software, as well as giving you a web interface. They are all easy to install and have a simple user interface. And yet there are some differences...

Of course you could always try them all if decision making is not your thing.

What do you think? There's a "debate" on Facebook. 

Spider Oak
If security or privacy are important to you then Spider oak is probably the best bet. With Spider Oak no-one can see your files except you. The company claims to operate a 'zero knowledge' policy, meaning that all data is encrypted on your machine, before transmission and storage. This means even if the CIA hack into their computers or order them to release the data, they can only hand over encrypted files. All the other companies hold the keys so that they can look at your files, mine them for data and hand them over to anyone they choose.

Spider Oak also has a range of other high-end features you won't find in the others such as the option to back up multiple folders on several different machines. They also have a unique system for sharing files or a group of files.


Probably the best known of all the file back up systems this one has the advantage of being very widely used making it easy to share files and folders with other users. It is secure, reliable easy to use. (Though not as secure as spider-oak, see above).

(Sign up with this link to get 2.5GB instead of the usual 2)


Like Dropbox, often provides good deals to new subscribers.

10GB straight off on the free plan, but a 250mb file-size limit.

The systems above all provide one service: cloud storage and they do this very well. The three below have the extra advantages of integrating with a range of other tools, services and systems.

However the downside of this is that the simple functionality is compromised as they try to push you towards their other products, which can be annoying.

The best solution may be a combination of more than one service for different things.

Google Drive

Many people seem to find Google drive to be quicker for uploading large files than Copy. As you get 15GB with google this is a pretty good solution for sharing a few smaller video files or a load of photos. It has the added advantages of playing video natively, integrating with other Google products, and being 'already there' to anyone who already has a google account. The other google tools such as the documents, spreadsheets and presentation tools are all rapidly becoming serious challengers to more familiar Microsoft tools. We use google sites for a lot of modules too (in case you hadn't noticed).

The disadvantages are that this is really a web only tool. You can install Google drive on your computers and devices but the file structure is messy, and to view or edit the contents you end up opening a browser and google interface anyway. Also many people seem to find the layout and organisation of Google tools quite confusing.

This is a very powerful toolset if you buy into the whole Google package and definitely worth exploring for a range of specific tasks, but is not really a stand-alone backup and file-sharing tool like the others on this page.


Microsoft's Offering. This used to be erratic and confusing but has got a lot better. Like google it syncs with all sorts of online resources. You also get 25GB free account with your university email account.


Apple's offering. It looks great and works very well, but it does like you to be 100% Apple. It also tries to take control over everything you own. Brilliant if you want to synch your various apple devices very easily. Even better if you want all your music, photos, contacts etc. to be automatically controlled by Apple software.

Not many people seem to use it for some reason...

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