Cloud Chaos?

As a student, I was always told – no forced – to create folders on my computer to store all documents pertaining to one course or project. All files, no matter the extension or type, go in a folder so they can all be found and all the links to files will work. The same was true for your desktop, keep it clean, keep it in folders. I am a huge fan of arranging all my work into folders and logical places on my physical drives. That often means I do have to use USB sticks to transfer work over to another device, but at least you can. So, for years now, I have been meticulously placing the right file in the right folder to enable myself to locate the said file with ease and to ensure if I copy a folder over -via memory stick – to another device, that all the “stuff” is there. Makes sense I hope?

Now, we have cloud storage, cloud backups, cloud software, cloud this and cloud that. Most major companies offer cloud storage or backup;

·        Microsoft OneDrive

·        Google Drive

·        Adobe Creative Cloud

·        GitHub

·        Kindle Cloud Reader

·        Dropbox

·        Sony Memories

·        Canon/Nikon for photos

·        Samsung

·        iCloud

The list goes on. Most of the list above create a folder on your physical drive that is “synced” to the “cloud”. So, the work you do on MS Word will be in a OneDrive folder, while the image you created will be in your Adobe Creative Cloud folder. More on this later, but I think we need to look at what the cloud is first?

The “cloud” is a physical location! It is not a cloud of data that just floats in space waiting for you to grab at it. The cloud will not rain data when it gets near a hilltop or the North of England. It is located on various servers at various server farms around the globe (depending on the size of the company that stores your cloud data). Those servers are constantly connected to the World Wide Web and the internet so that you can access your data anywhere at any time. The data is across several different farms, often floating back and forth (a cloud of data) to ensure the data is always backed up and accessible should a server fail. So then, the cloud is rather fantastic! You can work on any device, at any location, on any platform, using various software at any time – within reason and with some caveats. On top of this, you can rest assured you have a copy of a file backed up somewhere. Even if you delete a file, there is a greater chance of recovering it or at least finding an older version of it.

So, all this is great! So why the title “Cloud Chaos”? Well, if we think back to the folder scenario I have already eluded to, we now need to create a folder for each cloud provider rather than for each project. My simple logic brain now struggles to think – which cloud provider has what file in which subfolder for which project? For instance, I could be planning and designing a web page. I may write all the text in MS Word first, then save the work in my OneDrive so I can access the document on my phone too. Next, I create an image in Photoshop and save the image in my Adobe Creative Cloud folder. I may start my HTML code in Dreamweaver and save it too to the Adobe Creative Cloud, but my colleague needs to work on the code too, so I place the code on GitHub so we can share the code in real time without having to give them access to my Adobe account. So now I have different files in different cloud folders. This is amazing, that colleagues can share work and be assured they are working on the latest iteration, however, my poor dyslexic mind cannot cope easily with files in various locations rather than in just one location that I control. So, on one hand, our workflow has the potential to grow and the potential of collaboration is almost limitless (bandwidth and latency aside). This is, understandably why the cloud is so popular. Especially, as most cloud services come as an add-on to your software package. Or, in the case of Dropbox, are essentially free – unless you need larger storage through a business account. It really is quite amazing!

So, why the chaos? Well, simply because your files are now spread across various cloud providers and it is not until you bring it all together can it be stored in one location. So, if we take Dreamweaver as our example, we need to place all the associated files in a root folder so the website can link to all its assets relatively. All the image files will be in the default image folder, HTML in another, CSS and JavaScript in others. So, we need to take the original files out of the cloud folder and place them on our server so the links all work etc. For most people, this probably is not an issue, but for me – with dyslexia and short-term memory loss – it is a nightmare! Did I move the file? Where is the file? Am I working with the latest version? Have I put all the files in the right folder and deposited it all on the server? I agree, the cloud makes life more collaborative and intuitive for most, but it is a new way of working that does take time to adapt to. Clearly, I am slowly getting used to disparate folders and locations.

How do you manage all your files and folders? Do you have your files across several paths and folders? How do you collate and share your workflow?

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I hope this article has gone some way in helping you understand the importance of UPDATES. If it has…please LIKESHARE or FEEDBACK the post. Thank you.

About the Author, – Dr Richard Haddlesey is the founder and Webmaster of English Medieval Architecture in which he gained a Ph.D. in 2010 and holds Qualified Teacher Status relating to I.C.T. and Computer Science. Richard is a professional Web Developer and Digital Archaeologist and holds several degrees relating to this. He is passionate about the dissemination of research and advancement of digital education and Continued Professional Development #CPD. Driven by a desire to better prepare students for industry, Richard left mainstream teaching to focus on a career in tutoring I.T. professionals with real industry ready skills that matter at The Training Room.

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