I have written previously about a problem that myself and many of you have when it comes to using cloud storage solutions. I call it Cloud Storage Sprawl. Cloud Storage Sprawl is when your documents and data become spread out among multiple cloud storage services like OneDrive, Google Drive, Box.com, and Dropbox to name a few. In my previous article, I recommended selecting a set of purpose built cloud services like flicker for pictures and OneDrive for documents and simplifying your portfolio of storage providers. I try to take my own advice as often as possible, but sometimes I fail. Because I test lots of different services I tend to have my data spread out all over the place. Microsoft has embraced that fact that many of you are much like me, with documents on cloud services other than theirs, and they are working to accommodate that.
Last November Microsoft partnered with Dropbox, allowing you to add Dropbox as a storage location in Office Desktop Apps. Recently they expanded on that partnership and made it easier to access files stored on Dropbox from iOS apps as well as Office Online, the web browser based version of Office. The Locations Picker in iOS apps is able to integrate natively with several cloud storage provider apps on your device, allowing you to choose to open and save files stored on multiple cloud storage providers’ services. Integration with Universal Apps for Windows 10 and Android based devices is not yet available, but Microsoft says they are hard at work bringing this feature to all of the platforms that Office runs on as part of their cloud first focus for all of their products. As more cloud storage providers update their apps and online services to integrate with the new program interface Microsoft has introduced, you will see more providers showing up as targets to save your documents to from within Microsoft applications.
The continued march to the cloud seems to be inevitable. More and more of our data is being stored there and for good reason. It is cheap and, assuming you take steps like using strong passwords, it is more secure than most small business networks. Even though it is continuing to get easier to make use of cloud services for business it is important you take the time to do your due diligence regarding a service and their rights to the data you store on their systems. In some cases, a cloud service agreement gives the service provider more control over your data than you or your customers might feel comfortable. Responsible data management is key to maintaining not only a hold on your data stored in the cloud but also your sanity. I can say with near perfect certainty that I have never had an issue with any of the cloud providers I trust and on more than one occasion their use has saved me not only from disaster but also the occasional bout of forgetfulness when I have left a document behind and needed to use the web to access it.