Cloudy with a chance of [puns are hard]

Are you an Australian academic or researcher? Doing a research degree in Australia? Are you using Dropbox or some other cloud storage provider? Of course you are. Have you ever wondered if that’s really the best thing to be doing?

In vacant or in pensive mood they flash upon that inward eye

The main cloud storage providers are pretty clear that your data is yours but simple ownership of data often isn’t all that you need to think about as a researcher.

In many cases, if you keep your data on a computer you don’t control or keep your data overseas you may be in breach of your university’s research ethics requirements or the data management requirements of your funding. That would be bad. I know our Research Ethics Office advises against using cloud storage and I suspect there’s a strong chance yours does, too. This is a problem because most people’s documents might not live in the cloud, but they do commute there.

Fortunately there is a solution!

AARNet, the Australian Academic Research Network, a not-for-profit telecommunications carrier owned by 38 Australian Universities and CSIRO, provides a service called CloudStor. Like Dropbox or Google Drive, CloudStor gives you browser or cross-platform plugin accessible cloud storage (if you have a .edu.au email address). Unlike Dropbox, CloudStor gives you 100GB of space and you can ask for more if you need it.

Also, and importantly, unlike most other cloud storage providers, CloudStor is 100% hosted in Australia so it will keep your university and your funders happy.

I’ve been using CloudStor for about a week now and it’s functionally indistinguishable for me from Dropbox. It’s fast at work. It’s fast on my home network and it doesn’t need a VPN. I can share files with other people from the web interface or from the right-click menu that the plugin provides. The one downside is that it’s a little fiddly to install the plugin which requires that you create a unique plugin password via the web interface. The process for getting the plugin set up is adequately described in the getting started pdf.

If you’re an Australian academic you should try CloudStor. You’ll be glad you did.

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