The cloud has changed the way we interact with the web—there’s no hyperbole in this statement. Mobile devices, private networks with shared data centers, the rise of apps, dynamic sites—all of these innovations were enabled by cloud computing. But, saving documents and files to a server somewhere out in the universe isn’t always as easy as ctrl-c and ctrl-v. Usability and navigation have always been some of the problems with cloud space storage because we have to ask a web interface to do the job of an operating system. The user can struggle through it, but usually the operations are clunky and slow. This all makes sense, users are accustomed to taking advantage of the full computing power of an operating system fine-tuned and devoted to file management—web-based software is going to be under-powered and clunky by comparison.
Thankfully, the big cloud storage providers—or, I guess it’s more accurate to say the cloud storage providers who provide free space to the public—realize there’s a little too much awkwardness involved with performing file management operations with their web-based interfaces. Dropbox (information available here | download available here) has provided a desktop application client for its users for a number of years now (detailed here). What does this do? A user can use their computer’s typical file management abilities and operating system to manage documents and folders (think actions like: copying and pasting multiple documents, renaming files, creating sub-folders, etc), but at the same time, have all the contents of specified folders uploaded to the cloud and synced to their Dropbox account. So, it’s the best of both worlds: the multiple access points of cloud storage (“I want to look at all the videos I have of my kids”), and the document management abilities of a typical computer (“but I want to select and copy 13 different documents simultaneously first”).
Google’s public cloud platform has recently joined Dropbox in offering a connected folder. The Droid Lawyer’s Jeffrey Taylor does an excellent job of walking a user through setting this up: right here. Fortunately, the whole set-up process is exceedingly easy, with required software only taking a minute or so to download. After this process, you can use a mirrored folder on your desktop or laptop (or wherever you save the client) to easily manage files: again, it’s the best of both worlds, you get to use your computer’s file management capabilities while also hosting documents on the cloud.