Much has changed since 1967 — getting on or off someone’s cloud, for example. A lot of companies want you to be on their cloud.

Since the beginning of the fall 2015 term, several folks have approached me with questions about which cloud to get onto. Some faculty want it to hold files for their research, where others are looking for ways to collaborate with students or other researchers.

When it involves international co-writing, I find myself getting onto a different cloud for my various writing and research projects. I tell myself that this helps me keep everything in its own place.

There are many cloud-based storage options available for faculty and staff at The University of Alabama:

There are plenty of comparisons to peruse online. Here’s my perspective that skips over the technical details:

Share folders and files easily? Do invitations require an account? Coauthor projects with others in real time? Does it integrate with Microsoft Office? Does it sync across computers, tablets, and phones?
UA+Box Yes, with lots of permissions options Yes No Yes, Box has an app that integrates into Office Yes
Google Drive (Crimson) Yes, with basic permissions to either “view only” or “edit” No, if you wish them to “view only” Yes No. Google offers a suite to do the basics (documents, spreadsheets, drawing), plus create surveys and forms Yes
MS 365 One Drive Yes, but “view only” with non-MS 365 subscribers Yes Yes Yes Yes
Endnote X7 Yes, join the “Endnote Community” to share libraries & your marked-up PDFs Yes No Yes, Endnote appears in Microsoft Word’s top menu bar Only on iPads. There is no Android app.
Adobe Creative Cloud Yes, but only with Creative Cloud subscribers Yes No No No
BBL Content Collection Yes, by inviting guests. Lots of permissions options. Yes Sort of, if you are working together on a wiki. No No

Download Cloud Storage Comparison Chart (PDF).

These are the features people are asking about. Do you have other considerations that I missed?

Note: At The University of Alabama, all data falling under FERPA should be stored on UA+Box only. I did not include iCloud because Apple does not play well with others. All of the above work with anything (i.e., they are “platform agnostic”)!


Nathan Loewen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Faculty Technology Liaison for the College of Arts & Sciences

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