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Last semester was a great semester for me. In one of my English classes, I wrote a 16-page story that I spent the entire semester working on. I was even considering trying to get in published in a literary magazine.  Sadly, my three-month old Mac randomly decided to crash, and I lost all of my documents and pictures. It was obviously an unexpected experience and I never wanted to repeat it again. Therefore, I bought an external hard drive and backed up all of my documents onto it. I thought that this meant that I was safe.

I shared this story with  Nick Recchia, ITS Security Administrator, and he enlightened me to the fact that this one external hard drive”\ backup by itself presents a risk. The risk with backing up your documents on a physical device is that the device itself, can be easily broken, stolen, or destroyed. And if that is the only backup, in one single day, a life’s worth of pictures and documents could be gone. Well that sucks…

During our conversation we explored other options, I could email documents and pictures to myself, but as most of you know, this takes a lot of time because it is a manual process. And really, who wants to attach each individual picture to an email? Not to mention that you would have to send multiple emails (which could easily get lost) because there is a maximum of attachments that you can send in each email. So even though this option is plausible, it definitely isn’t a long-term one.

Google DriveIf you have very few documents, you could use the free version of Google Drive, which offers you 5 gigabyte of space. You can always buy more space. You already have an account to it. All you have to do is sign into your USF email, and click on the “Drive” tab on the top of the page.

If you own one of the most recent Apple products, you have probably heard about iCloud. iCloud is basically an online storage database, which automatically uploads whatever documents and pictures that you want backed up to your personal space online. This space is password protected and nobody can see it unless they have your password. iCloud is great, but it only gives you 5 gigabytes of free space. As with Google Drive, you can update your account to have more space if you pay a fee.

Dropbox is another popular online storage database. It gives you 2 gigabytes of free space and has many cool features, such as you can share your documents with other users.

Mozy Home is USF’s recommended online storage and backup vendor. ITS has struck a deal with them so that students and staff get 15% off of their $5.99 per month subscription.

Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, and Mozy are some of the most popular online storage databases, and there are many more that you can try out. They are all essentially the same (allow you space to store your stuff in the cloud), but they do differ a little bit with their options and features. They all have trial versions, and so you can sample them for free with limited space, and decide which one you like best.

One thing to keep in mind is password protection. I have recently written about the importance of having a good password for all of your different accounts. If you decide to use an online storage database, you should keep in mind that all of your information will be stored in one place. This means that you need an extremely secure password. If you are storing any kind of sensitive personal identifiable information (PII), ITS recommends that you choose a solution that will encrypt your documents in transit (when sent to the cloud) and at rest (when stored in the cloud). When you sign up for a database, there is an option to do this — all you have to do is check the box.

If you need more help, feel free to contact CIT. They can personally help you with the setup process, or you can take a class. They are located on the lower level of the School of Education. You can also email them at cit@usfca.edu to set up a meeting.

Well, I’m off to go buy a subscription to one of these online storage databases’, and I suggest that you do the same.

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