With online storage, you never have to worry about losing your USB flash drive or forgetting to bring it with you. Online file storage is the safest option for backing up your files, and there a several different providers for you to choose from. A few of the most popular free storage options are discussed here, but there are many more available.
OneDrive for Business is available as part of the Office 365 Education subscription for students, faculty, and staff, but this account is only available as long as you are enrolled or employed at the university. There are many free and paid storage options available for you to store your important files. The options listed below offer both free and paid storage services, but this page describes the free version of each program. It is recommended that students and faculty/staff maintain a backup of all personal files stored in OneDrive for Business using one of these programs.
OneDrive is a file storage system provided by Microsoft that allows you to both upload existing files and create new ones in the Office Web Applications. Once files have been uploaded to OneDrive, there is an option to share them so that others view and download the documents. Microsoft offers 5 GB of free storage space with OneDrive, and your account includes online editing and sharing capabilities. OneDrive also has a desktop sync client so that you can save files to your OneDrive folder as you work offline; the next time you connect to the internet your files sync and are available both on and offline. You can even view, edit, and share your files from your smartphone with the OneDrive app.
This OneDrive is not the same as the OneDrive for Business account provided by the University. It will require a new, separate account.
Sign-up for OneDrive
To sign-up and start using OneDrive, visit the site https://onedrive.live.com/about/en-us/ and click Sign up for free.
You will need a Microsoft account to use OneDrive, so you can either create a new one or use your existing Microsoft account to sign-up.
When creating a new account, you can use an existing email address or create a new Microsoft email address. Once your account is created, you can start using OneDrive right away. Access your files online by logging in to https://onedrive.com or download the desktop sync software to access your files directly from your computer.
Another free online storage solution is the independent Dropbox platform. Dropbox is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Mobile users. A free Dropbox account allows you to sync files between the online storage and your desktop with up to 2 GB of storage. With Dropbox, you can also share large files and control who accesses those files; this is useful in large homework file size situations. Like OneDrive, you can view and edit your documents online using the Microsoft Office Web Applications. There is even a Dropbox mobile app that allows you to access your files from a mobile device.
Sign-up for Dropbox
- Go to http://www.dropbox.com/.
- Select Get Dropbox Basic from the main page.
- From the new page you can create a new account with your existing email address or connect Dropbox to your Google account.
Once your account is created you can start using Dropbox right away. Access your files online by logging in to https://dropbox.com or download the desktop sync software to access your files on your computer.
Google Drive is part of the Google suite of online tools that includes Google Docs and Sheets. Google Drive allows you to create documents using their suite of online applications and upload your existing documents from other applications. You do, however, need to have a Google Account created before you can start using these products. 15 GB of Google Drive storage space and the rest of the Google suite is included with every free Google account. Google Drive also has mobile apps that allow you to access your files on your mobile devices and you can download other Google Drive apps to edit your files on mobile devices.
Sign-up for a Google account
- Access Google at www.google.com.
- Click Sign In on the top of the page.
- Select Create account beneath the sign-in box, or if you already have a Google account you can sign in and get started.
- Once your account is created, you can access Google Drive from www.google.com by selecting Drive in the Google Apps menu.
Now that your Drive is all set up, you can download the desktop sync client to easily save and access your files from your computer.
Box is another independent file storage site. With a free Box account, users receive 10 GB of file storage and mobile access to their documents. Box offers a mobile app and desktop sync software to ensure access to your files is available from wherever you are. Users can edit documents online with Box using the Microsoft Office Web Applications, or create new documents from within Box with both the Microsoft Office Web Applications and Google Docs and Sheets.
Sign-up for Box
- Go to https://www.box.com and click on Get Started
- Select Individual Plans to sign up for a personal Box account.
Use an existing email address to sign up for Box. Once you are done with the setup process you can start using Box right away, and you can download their sync client to have both on and offline access to your documents.
Apple iCloud Drive
iCloud Drive is Apple’s online storage system. Each free iCloud Drive account comes with 5 GB of storage space and integrates with Apple’s iCloud Mail, Calendar, Contacts, and Safari browser bookmarks. Unlike the above applications, iCloud Drive is only available to Apple device users with an Apple ID; however, Apple offers a desktop sync client for Windows users to access their iCloud information.
Sign up for iCloud Drive
Users with a Mac laptop, Apple iPhone, or an iMac system can use iCloud Drive with their existing Apple ID.
Mac and iMac
Users on OS X Yosemite and later can use iCloud Drive.
- On your computer, click the System Preferences icon.
- Select iCloud from the menu.
- Check the box next to iCloud Drive to turn on and start using this feature.
Users on iOS 9 and later can use iCloud Drive.
- On your iPhone, go to the Settings menu.
- Select iCloud from the list of settings.
- Find and open the iCloud menu and select the icon next to iCloud Drive to turn on and start using this feature
- You can then download the iCloud Drive app from the App Store to access your files.
- Go to https://www.icloud.com and sign in with your Apple ID.
- Click on the icon for Pages, Numbers, or Keynote (it doesn’t matter which one you choose).
- You will asked if you want to upgrade to iCloud Drive. Select the Upgrade to iCloud Drive option.
- You will now have an icon for iCloud Drive on your iCloud homepage. You can upload and view all of your documents, and you can edit Pages, Numbers, or Keynote documents online.