What is a Cloud Drive, Its Uses and the Setting Up Process?
With the growing number of files and proliferation of applications, many people are finding that their devices run out of storage space sooner than expected. A typical action game takes up as much as 200GB, and a 4k video can be even bigger. The traditional method has always been to use physical hard drives to store files on the client-side. However, with the rise of hard drives’ prices and the difficulty in maintaining them, it’s more beneficial to move to the Cloud instead of staying solely on the client-side. This article explains what a cloud drive is, its uses and how to set up some popular cloud drives on a Windows pc with ease.
What is a Cloud Drive and its Purpose?
A cloud drive is file storage located on a remote server. The storage unit is located in a single server or formed with many servers scattered in multiple locations. Usually, a cloud drive is accessed over the Internet; hence the files stored on the cloud drive are accessible as long as the internet connectivity is available. A user who works on a document can resume it at the office or anywhere else as the Cloud keeps the files in sync. Nowadays, cloud drives are quite popular as people use multiple devices, such as mobiles, laptops, and desktops. A cloud drive allows users to keep their files in sync, and so there is no need to move files across multiple devices manually. Apart from the ease of use, moving to Cloud reduces the maintenance cost and the risk of losing files when the storage unit has malfunctioned as the company that provides the cloud drives takes care of them. However, an improperly configured cloud drive might jeopardize the three pillars of information security. The three pillars in information security are availability, confidentiality, and integrity. Even though there are many risks associated with cloud drives, they are worth investing in since the benefits outweigh the risks.
Popular Cloud Drives for Consumers and Businesses
There are many consumer and business-grade cloud drives available on the Internet. Some of the popular, secure and reliable providers are Google, Microsoft, and Dropbox. They provide Google Drive, OneDrive, and Dropbox respectively. Google Drive is available under two packages, Google One and Google Workspace. Google One is aimed at consumers and small teams, whereas the Workspace is aimed at Businesses. OneDrive comes in two versions, Home and Business. The home package allows using OneDrive either in Microsoft 365 package or as a standalone plan in which the 5GB space can be upgraded to 100GB. Dropbox also has two packages, Personal and Business. Apart from one plan in all the providers, all the plans are provided as a monthly subscription service. Both Google and Microsoft have a regional pricing scheme; hence it’s more cost-effective to use them instead of Dropbox.
How to Set up Cloud Drives on Windows 10
When signing up on one of the platforms described above, a dedicated file system for the particular user is automatically created on a remote server. The file system can be used as a cloud drive to store files. In addition, the official desktop client can be used to incorporate the cloud drive into the file system of the client side for ease of usage. So, whenever a file is moved to the cloud drive, which is integrated into the local drive, it’s automatically uploaded to the remote server in real-time and vice versa.
Where to Download the Official Desktop Clients?
- Google Drive (known as Backup and Sync): https://www.google.com/drive/download/
- OneDrive (Included in Windows 10): https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/onedrive/download
- Dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/downloading
Download the Backup and Sync desktop client from the website mentioned above.
Install it on the PC.
Launch the application from the start menu.
Sign in to the Google Account to which Google Drive belongs.
Adjust its settings as seen in the following screenshot. It’s recommended to select all the files in My PC and Check Google Photos option. Photos option makes the images uploaded to Google Drive appear in Photos.Google.com.
In the Google Drive section, select Sync everything in My Drive. The main difference between the two above options is that the My PC option uploads user-account folders such as Videos, documents, Pictures etc., whereas the Google Drive option uploads only the files and folders copied to its folder. However, both options upload files and folders to Google cloud drive and keep them in sync with the local file system.
The Google Drive folder is accessible via the Navigation pane in the File Explorer, as seen in the following screenshot. To upload any file or folder to the cloud drive, copy them to this folder. Additionally, if the My PC option is used, copying them to the Documents and Pictures folders does the same job.
By default, OneDrive is available in Windows 10 itself; hence there is no need to download it separately. If it’s not installed on the PC, use the link described above to download it.
- Launch the OneDrive app from the start menu.
Log In to the OneDrive account with an Outlook account. Microsoft 365 Subscribers with a custom domain email address can use their email address here as well.
Select the folder where the files to be uploaded to the cloud drive are located. By default, the configuration wizard uses C:\Users\<UserName>\OneDrive path.
OneDrive folder can be accessed through the navigation pane in File Explorer, as seen in the following screenshot.
Dropbox has a lengthy and inconvenient setup process compared to other Cloud Drives, but it ensures that the drive is configured correctly as per the user requirement before making it available to the user. Like the rest of the drives, download its client-side setup file from the link mentioned above and install it on the computer.
Launch Dropbox from the start menu.
Log in to Dropbox either via email, Apple ID or Google account.
Choose how to sync files. ‘Make files local’ option downloads files whenever they are opened on the client-side. It’s convenient in case Internet connectivity is unavailable. ‘Make files online-only’ option keeps the files online and saves the hard disk space on the client-side. Either way, files take up space in the cloud file system regardless of which option is picked.
Like both Google Backup and Sync and OneDrive, the files and folders on the user-account folder of the computer can be backed up in the cloud drive.
The folder created for Dropbox only stores the files copied into it. It can be accessed via the Navigation pane in the File Explorer.
Vikas Medhekar is a technology enthusiast who loves writing articles on computers and technology. He writes on various topics related to software, software reviews, troubleshooting and tips & tricks to make people’s digital lives better.