Why you need a digital attic

John Gushue
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I started using the digital storage service Dropbox for a few reasons, but the key reason is simple enough: the utter fear that I might lose somethings that simply cannot be replaced.

Well, they actually could. But I frankly don’t have the time to put it all together again, and I can’t imagine where my head would be if something catastrophic happened to my laptop.

I back up my drive, I’ve burned CDs, and I’ve even e-mailed key things to my Gmail account, just so I have the peace of mind of knowing I can get this or that specific thing later.

But I signed up for Dropbox for that extra feeling of security, knowing that not only are copies being archived somewhere, but (sweet!) Dropbox actually updates those copies, in real time, as I save the primary records.



The phrase “the cloud” has gained currency over the last few years, to describe how computing is using networks to store and exchange data. Sure, I rely on my hard drive a lot, but I store many of my things offsite, in part so I can access to them when I sign into another workstation.

For work as a journalist, quite a lot of the files I generate or edit reside on off-site computers, and some never actually download to my desktop. Remarkable, when you think about what constituted normal workflow just a few years ago.

Dropbox and its cousins are convenient for a whole other reason. More and more, many of us need to move relatively massive files (videos come to mind) that are simply too big to send as an e-mail attachment. A quick solution? Setting up a digital drop where someone can log in and securely download the file.

A few weeks ago, Dropbox added a sharing feature for its users (look for the “Get shareable link” tab) that will make it easier to move things about.

Conveniently, the service is free … at least, that is, as long as your storage needs are within limits.

There are other options. SugarSync (www.sugarsync.com) gets good reviews from users, and it will set you back five bucks a month so long as you keep your storage pegged at 30 gigs of data. A trial is free.

A competitor like Mozy (mozy.com) wisely pitches its $5/month fee as a reasonable cost compared to the expense and effort of backing up photo CDs and the like.

Shop around: there are plenty of others. You don’t want to back yourself into a corner, but you’re definitely going to want to have a backup plan.

Elsewhere this week

Google Sightseeing


Google Earth and Google Street View have each changed how we look at the world — specifically, very particular corners of it. Zoom in on an archeological wonder, cruise by a famous address, peer at a place described in your guidebooks — all without looking away from your laptop.

Google Sightseeing is a long-running and popular blog, and not officially connected with Google itself. Poke around to see the latest curiosities (a Terry Fox statue, for instance) or browse through the geographic index to see what’s on offer.

Worst Hockey Logos


The Anaheim Mighty Ducks, folks, are just the tip of the iceberg of these design guffaws. Imagine what the sods wearing the jerseys must have felt as they tried to skate with their dignity intact.

St.  John’s Cricket Club


I did not know until given this address that St. John’s even had a cricket club. The members appear to operate fairly quietly, but if you’re curious, look here to get started.

John Gushue is an online editor with CBC News in St. John’s. Twitter: @johngushue. Blog: johngushue.typepad.com

Organizations: Google, Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Cricket Club CBC News

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Recent comments

  • Lise Raev
    August 31, 2011 - 11:24

    It's true; dropbox is nifty. It's storage capacity is too small for businesses, though. For individuals dropbox is perfect; businesses will probably need a business online backup site.

  • onlinefilestorage
    September 15, 2010 - 17:41

    I agree too, backing things up is just as important as when you first get them. When backing up online files for storage, its good to search all your options before you choose a program to do that for you. www.opendrive.com

  • Liam Herringshaw
    August 11, 2010 - 08:54

    Hi John, The St John's Cricket Club now has about 60 members, and we're always looking for new players. We have a facebook group where regular updates are posted, or else people can contact me through the website and I will add them to the email list. Best wishes, Liam

  • J.J. Roberts
    July 30, 2010 - 11:16

    I agree, backing up things that are just too important to lose is essential. As for others out there, the best I have used is Syncables. It can automatically sync or migrate my data between my Dell and my Mac. I have my pictures, spreadsheets, emails, and more stuff continuously sync'd and up to date on my local network, between both of my computers.