✱ Cloud Storage for Digital Artists

Read this informative article if you're interested in or trying to decide which cloud storage service to use. The big four are Dropbox, Google Drive, Box and Microsoft One Drive. After that, read more about my own examples of how I work with the cloud.

Chris Grant:

This isn't going to be an incredibly exhaustive test - there are already other in-depth feature reviews. Nor am I focused on how many gigs can I get for free - I'm a professional and I use the cloud for professional work. I want to know which service is better overall, for a creative image/video based business.

I'd add three of my favorite things (and give away my pick by doing so):

  1. I like when someone who uses Dropbox sends me a link, I can either download the ZIP file or simply add it to my Dropbox.
  2. I love the ability to restore previous version of files, and 'undelete' files that I've accidentally thrown away. This has saved me more times than I'd care to admit, and Dropbox saves previous versions of file for 30 days, even in their free accounts. It's just like Time Machine on the Mac.
  3. Dropbox is everywhere. A lot of my apps on iOS talk to it in some way or another, and I have many programs that rely on it to keep all my Macs and IOS devices in sync. 

A Case Study

Here's how I actually use Dropbox in my professional workflow, and I have to say that it would be hard to work without it anymore. I'll keep it short because it's not too hard to figure out, but if you have questions go ahead and ask them in the comments.

Keep current project files on Dropbox

I always keep projects that are currently being worked on in a folder on Dropbox. The reason is simple: ubiquitous access. I never know where or when I'll need to access a file. I can get to it from any device this way, and it gives me piece of mind to know that not only are the files always available, but that they are backed up because they are synced on multiple computers. It also helps to know that they're versioned so if for some reason I forget to Save As... I can probably get back to an older version of the file without any issues.

Rendering to Dropbox

This builds on the last section. I do a ton of 3d work as you can tell from this site. When rendering my projects I always tell the system to save the files in the project folder saved on Dropbox. Because Dropbox is always syncing in the background, my files are being continually updated without any need of intervention on my behalf. I can rest assured that the files, again, are being backed up on multiple computers that are all connected (and turned on) to my Dropbox account.

Perhaps the best part of this scenario is that because I mostly render with Maxwell Render and the images are continually being "developed" I can pull up an image on my iPhone to see its progress any time while rendering. And then when I feel it's ready, I can send off a proof to my client right from my phone if I need to. From anywhere. This is powerful stuff, and only possible because of the cloud.

In conclusion

Thankfully I don't have any horror stories to share, other than the single outage I've experience a couple of months ago. I couldn't get files that I was supposed to receive from another person, and I had to figure out another way to get the job done. This is a rare thing to go wrong, but it did happen. Overall I'm completely sold and happily rely on the cloud. Dropbox, iCloud, and lots of sync services have really changed the way I work in the last few years.

Do you have any cloud tips & tricks? Horror stories? I'd love to hear about them in the comments. 


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