If you are a translator or a lawyer and haven’t used Dropbox yet (or any other cloud service, for that matter), or haven’t heard of it, you definitely should check it out and give it a try. Except for extremely large files, it seems that the days of using USB flash drives may well be over. Our lives have moved to the cloud almost completely.
But what are cloud services? Generally, the term “cloud” refers to the Internet itself – it derives from a cloud drawing used as a symbol. In a nutshell, cloud services basically offer you a hard disk on the Internet.
At The TR Company, we started using it a couple of years ago at the suggestion of one of our employees, and we haven’t stopped using it. It has proven extremely useful to share large files with translators and clients when email is not an option (either due to speed or size limits – try emailing a 100mb-file!)
It is pretty easy to use, which makes it all the more attractive. Once you create an account and install the application in your computer (which you actually don’t need to do, since you can access it from any web browser), just copy your files to a specified folder in your computer (you’ll get a system tray icon that lets you access that folder directly) and voilà – they will be synced almost immediately, depending on your internet connection and the file size. You will have any files you want available at any time, and you can share them with as many people as you want, using a simple public link. You may make changes to a document and it will let you check previous versions, in case, for instance, you accidentally delete something you weren’t supposed to.
These services are also very useful when you work with other translators or lawyers in a group project. Since all changes to the documents are saved almost automatically, you can rest assured that every one of your colleagues will always have access to the latest version (for example, when updating glossaries, agreements or any other important documents.)
You can even use Dropbox from your smartphone or tablet, which nowadays I consider a must. Just install the app and access your files from virtually anywhere. You can save any files you want for offline access, if you plan to go to areas with bad or no Internet service.
The basic service offers 2 GB of storage for free, which is not a bad deal. There is a Pro plan that starts at $9.99 per month for 100 GB of storage, and they offer plans with even more storage capacity.
Other alternatives include: SpiderOak, the omnipresent Google Drive (which links directly to Google Docs, Google’s application designed to emulate a typical office suite), Copy, iCloud, BitTorrent Sync (which doesn’t store the files on servers, only in the computers you choose, adding a bit of security, but also forcing you to have at least one computer on), and Mega (which offers a whopping 50 gb of storage for free), among others.
What is your experience with cloud services? Please leave us any comments or questions and share your opinion with us!