Cloud computing for urologists

For anyone scared by the title you can be reassured that you are in all likelihood a seasoned cloud computing veteran. Most internet users have used web portals for e-mail such as Yahoo, Hotmail and Gmail and I bet everyone has emailed themselves an attachment so that they have a backup of an important file when they get to work. Both of these web-based services are examples of cloud computing.

Cloud computing

Cloud computing is a metaphor for the internet provision of any computing service. They allow an internet user to have a central point, the cloud, where any computing service can be provided. Currently, the most common cloud services provide storage for files through the internet which allow any internet enabled computer to connect to them. There has been a rapid increase in cloud computing as more people have multiple internet enabled personal computers such as desktops, laptops, tablets and smart phones. At the same time, increasing internet availability and broadband speeds mean that all of these devices can share the same files. So whether you are at work, home or on holiday, as long as you can access the internet, you can get access to your data. Some common uses of cloud computing include:

  • Constant backup of files on a personal computer
  • Access to files on portable devices (mobile phones, tablets)
  • Sharing files and project collaboration with other connected users
  • Streaming media from the internet (photos, music, videos)
  • Using apps within the cloud such as Google Docs, presentation software or Microsoft Office

Storage solutions

Table 1 gives a series of links to popular cloud computing solutions which offer free and paid cloud storage. It also shows some of the advantages and disadvantages of the various cloud computing solutions. Dropbox has an easy to use interface, good connectivity and a large user base. Sugarsync has the largest connectivity options and provides a good storage solution but the interface is not quite as easy to use as Dropbox. Newcomers to this arena, such as Google drive and Skydrive, provide good competition and are integrated with their existing services such as Gmail and Hotmail.

Conclusions

Your choice of cloud portal is likely to be personal and dependant on which devices you own and which services you want from the cloud. This is undoubtedly the beginning of widespread consumer cloud services and in the future all of our information maybe in the cloud.

Dropbox

Google drive

Skydrive

iCloud

Box

Sugarsync

Free storage

2 GB

5 GB

7 GB

5 GB

5 GB

5 GB

Maximum paid storage

100 GB

16000 GB

50 GB

50 GB

50 GB

500 GB

Extra storage *£ / GB / year

£1.30

£0.39-£0.78

£0.32

£1.30

£3.12

£0.52-£1.09

Connectivity Web,Windows, Mac, iOS,Android,Win Phone,Linux Web,Windows,Mac,Android,Linux Web,Windows,Mac, iOS,Win Phone Web,Mac, iOS Web,iOS,Android,Windows and Mac on paid plans Web,WindowsMaciOS,Win phone, Blackberry, Symbian
Pros Works on all major platforms,easy to use Integration with Google apps, clean interface Integration with Microsoft Office Easy integration with Apple products Various cloud apps Best connected solution
Cons Low free storage space Not available on all platforms Not yet available on all platforms Only works on Apple devices No desktop app for free users User interface not as good as Dropbox
Rating

8/10

6/10

8/10

4/10

5/10

8/10

Table 1. A comparison of popular cloud storage solutions.
*Estimated prices of paid storage correct as 03/06/2012 according to GBP to USD conversion rate 1.53.

Links

Dropbox – https://www.dropbox.com/

Google drive – https://drive.google.com/

Skydrive –  https://skydrive.live.com/

iCloud – https://www.icloud.com/

Box – https://www.box.com/

Sugarsync – https://www.sugarsync.com

Author

Ivo Dukic, ST5 in Urology, United Kingdom

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