This article was contributed by Bridget Houlihan.
Cloud-based platforms have enabled many creatives to expand and grow their businesses.
While the term “the cloud” may evoke images of perfect white clouds that you can see out of your airplane window — the tech version is anything but fluff. This is a powerful network that has taken over the way that people keep in touch, do business, watch tv, share their files, and photos. It has become a seamless way for people to feel even more connected — and has truly changed the shape of the way we do business.
By offering a constant connection to the internet, people can store and share files with an ease that has never before been available. These advancements in technology have been very helpful for many freelancers in the creative fields — such as design, writing, and photography. The cloud offers them a space to store projects and collaborate with colleagues and clients on many of their projects.
We’re going to discuss in this article:
- A brief history of file storage
- What exactly is the cloud?
- Who benefits from sharing files?
File storage has come a long way from filing cabinets. Sharing files has become an instantaneous process and no longer requires physical files.
History of File Storage
It may seem like ancient history, but not long ago files and documents had to be stored in a physical filing system. This meant that for every punchcard, report, photos, or meeting minutes– there was a spot in the filing cabinet for it. Depending on your industry, there would be rooms full of cabinets– all holding onto information about business practices, clients, and projects that needed to be organized and stored for future use. Although it seems unthinkable now, this is because everything was in paper form– there was no digital copy that is so ubiquitous today.
Microfiche and mimeographs were some of the first attempts to try and cut down on file cabinets– which can start to take up a lot of room fast. Capacity was judged in drawers, and not bytes, and was always limited by how much space was available. Sensitive records could sometimes be moved to offsite storage facility– but for everyday purposes– file cabinets were essential.
Moving along we next see that in an effort to stop the unending proliferation of filing cabinets for storage, magnetic tape was used to store even more information– and in a much smaller form. This increased the file storing capacity of businesses and provided them with an easier way to store and share their documents and files. This type of storage was also more inexpensive and eventually gave rise to the start of the computer revolution.
The IBM dual tape drive was huge by today’s standards– about the size of a refrigerator– but it was able to store and process a never before seen amount of data. This time period also saw the beginnings of backup tapes– which would be instrumental in how people eventually began to share files.
In the early 1950s, the underground site of an abandoned mushroom farm began to store files and personal records instead. This eventually lead to the development of Iron Mountain as an offsite, secure storage facility for all types of documents and information. Many companies were switching to storing their files on site as tapes– thus no longer needed the cabinets full of files. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, engineers were also working to further enhance the capabilities of portable storage disks. These floppy disks would go on to be the highest capacity file storage ever seen before– and all in about three inches of material.
Files could be downloaded from servers and easily shared– they could be copied and stored as backups as well. This allowed companies the freedom to share their files and information easily– the electronic copies on these disks freed up even more space and passed another threshold of file storage.
Storage Area Networks (SANs) were introduced that allow companies to more easily connect disks and networks– and also begin to incorporate disk backups and data protection. The price of disk-based storage began to decline as companies seek to find another way to store large amounts of files that include constant backups.
For personal file sharing and file use, the flash drive became a very popular option to move large files and photos to computers. Their capacity was much larger than the old floppy disks and they were relatively inexpensive. The price of these drives has decreased as the amount of data they can store has increased.
Freelancers have benefited from the many cloud-based applications that allow them to share and send files from anywhere.
What is the Cloud?
This brings us up to speed with how businesses and people share and send files today— via the cloud.
The cloud is an internet-based platform that connects servers from around the world. It is designed to offer instant access to data, applications, or services from any device that has an internet connection. No longer are freelancers and other businesses limited to storing their files on a desktop– or even on a flash drive.
This type of file storage was aided by the rise of devices other than a desktop computer that can connect to the internet. Smartphones, tablets, and watches can all offer users the ability to connect to the cloud anytime, and anywhere. Because of this, there has been a substantial increase in data and file sharing among freelancers with applications such as Dropbox. This gives them a very easy way to store photos, portfolios, and business information.
The cloud allows freelancers to safely share their portfolios with potential clients in a customizable and organized manner.
Freelancers Need to Share Files
Anyone with an internet device can store and share their personal or business-related files and documents over the cloud. Sharing files allows for greater collaboration among many co-workers who may not all be in the same building, let alone the same country. There are even tools that allow multiple people to view projects and make edits in real time– so that you can be sure you’re always seeing the most up to date version of a file.
Freelancers really appreciate the ease in which they have access to their files anywhere, which can be shared instantly. Since they’re always on the lookout for another possible client, the cloud makes sharing anytime a seamless process.
Freelance designers want to be able to share their portfolios, and present them to possible clients or business opportunities in their native format– the way in which they were meant to be viewed. Having your collection of designs available in a folder that has a link is an especially clean way to keep your portfolio organized, and easily navigable by prospective viewers.
The cloud is also a secure place, so a freelance designer can feel comfortable uploading and storing their designs without the worry of losing it or having it stolen. The link to their design portfolio can be secured as well, so that they can restrict or allow any editing from clients.
Storing photos on a computer or flash drive takes up a large amount of space. Freelance photographers need to keep a lot of photos at the same time– to offer options to clients and to have backups in case something should happen to the originals. It is not a viable option to have your website store the many prints either– that contributes to a slow site that must load pictures each time it is refreshed.
Cloud storage is ideal for photographers because they have a much larger capacity to fit not only the volume of photographs, but that can accommodate the large size of each file. This allows them to share photos with ease and to give access to their organized portfolios as well. It is also recommended to have a hard copy back up, see here for the best external hard drives.
Keeping all the edits straight on a document can sometimes be a daunting task– and before file sharing on the cloud– there were many versions of a single document. This can lead to confusion especially if more than one person is making edits. Too many versions can lead to mistakes and just create unnecessary documents.
Using a cloud-based platform, writing edits are made and saved in real time– there is no longer any need to email a version of the document to the recipient. By sharing the link and giving them access to the document, edits are tracked and made instantly, cutting down on cluttered email inboxes and multiple versions of saved files.
A specific type of freelancer has become popular over the years– and could only be possible with file storage and sharing in a cloud-based system. International nomads are those freelancers who take their design, photography, writing, or any other skill and offer their services as they travel the world. Because they can access all their supplies from anywhere– they are no longer constricted to one place or country to do business.
For those that like to travel, this has been an amazing opportunity to work in other countries and get to know other cultures. Without the rise of cloud computing, freelancers of this nature would not be able to work where they do.
The process of file sharing has been a long one, and has seen many iterations over the decades. It still comes down to one thing– files must be stored properly and securely, and be easy to access. Freelancers in particular have benefited from being able to market their works professionally and share them easily with prospective clients via the cloud.
Bridget Houlihan is a writer, poet, and cat mom living in Pittsburgh, PA. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn. This is a sponsored post for Dropbox. All opinions are my own. Dropbox is not affiliated with nor endorses any other products or services mentioned.