File Storage & Sharing
"Cloud-based" file storage systems allow you to not only upload and sync files to an online folder, but also share them with colleagues, who can then download and sync them, so that a file edited in one place is updated everywhere. Most systems track and store several versions of a file, so that you can restore to an earlier version if a file is accidentally deleted or corrupted. There are many cloud-based storage systems on the market.
Collaborative editing software allows multiple people to edit a given document simultaneously and in real time.
Office Online (previously Office WebApps)
Office Online is a part of the Microsoft Office/OneDrive family. When you upload Office files to OneDrive (previously Skydrive) you can share them with others to be edited collaboratively, either through Office Online (an online version of the Office suite) or in desktop versions of the Office programs. Changes made by desktop users are not synced to the online version until the desktop user saves.
Want to learn more?
- Lynda.com has several tutorial series for Google Docs. Log in and search for Google Docs for a list.
- Google also provides Google Drive documentation and tutorials.
- Microsoft has online documentation and support for OneDrive and Office Online.
Although you can upload, sync and share any type of file via Google drive, you can only collaboratively edit documents created with Google's online platform itself-- that is, in Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides. These programs have same basic functionality as their counterparts in Microsoft Office (even many keyboard shortcuts are the same!), and you can in theory import and export docs in MS Office formats (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx), although formatting is sometimes altered in practice. You can share documents and folders with others to give them viewing, commenting, and/or editing privileges. Google tracks and auto-saves changes as editors make them, and you can restore documents to older versions. Note: Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides are NOT encrypted and should NOT be used for sensitive or student data.
We've created a downloadable user guide for Google Drive and Docs. For the most up-to-date support and documentation, see each service's individual support website.
CAUTION: Security and Privacy
Read privacy and security policies carefully! Free services marketed to home users generally do NOT encrypt data, and some (Google, Amazon) may retain certain usage rights (e.g., marketing, data mining) on anything you store. Services marketed for enterprise use generally offer greater security and clearer privacy/intellectual property policies. However, you should always ENCRYPT sensitive data (including personally identifying information) before storing it on any laptop, thumb drive, external hard drive, or cloud storage service. (Data stored on a Bryn Mawr network server or a desktop in a locked office is generally considered secure.)
NOTE: The free encryption software TrueCrypt has been discontinued, as integrated support for encrypted disks and virtual disk images is offered on more recent versions of Windows (Vista, 7, & 8) and on other platforms (Mac and Linux). Any data previously encrypted using TrueCrypt should be migrated to encrypted disks or virtual disk images on your current platform.
Personal Digital Archiving
Archiving files is a great way to manage both personal and work files. It also aids in sharing this information with others later. Learn more on the Personal Digital Archiving LibGuide.
Contact Rachel Appel, Digital Collections Librarian, for more information and advise on best practices for archiving.
Phone: (610) 426-5093