To complete your portfolio this semester you have the option of using one of two backup applications: Dropbox or Spideroak. Each comes with its own benefits and drawbacks and I leave it up to you to decide which to use. Both are free for up to 2GB of space and allow you to backup your work and be able to access it from any computer or smart phone. They also allow you to create spaces where you can share your work with others. They both have many features, only a few of which we will be using in this assignment. Here are the specific differences:
Dropbox is the industry standard because it was first-to-market. It is very easy to set up and use. Sharing is quite intuitive and users can download and upload content to shared folders. This allows multiple people to upload documents to a shared space when they are, for example, collaborating on a project.
Dropbox has security issues, namely, as Dave Parry explains in his post, “Why I Might Be (although I would rather not be) Leaving Dropbox,” “if the government subpoenas Dropbox, Dropbox has the ability to turn over your files in unencrypted form to the officials.” This is an important issue and you should read his full post as to why everyone should be concerned about it (such as, if hackers find their way in to Dropbox, they would have access to some of your documents that might have private information, such as addresses, social security numbers, and so on). One work-around is to use local encryption software, like TrueCrypt, which is free and encrypts your data before sending it to the Dropbox server. If you choose to use TrueCrypt I recommend following their Beginner’s Tutorial quite closely.
Unlike Dropbox, Spideroak is completely secure. That is, you don’t need to worry about them being able to hand over your documents to any government official because files are encrypted locally on your computers before sending them to the server.
The interface and setup is not nearly as user-friendly as Dropbox. Sharing is sometimes buggy and difficult to set up (many students had trouble with this in the past). As of this writing, users can only download content from shared folders. Because of the encryption, syncing is often much slower than in Dropbox.
So, there you have it. You can either choose Dropbox, which is easier to use but offers security concerns (unless you install TrueCrypt). Or, you can choose Spideroak, which is completely secure but more difficult to use. The choice is up to you. Both of them will provide you will excellent backup resources for work you do in this and other classes, and later in life.
About the Portfolio
The Portfolio we create here will allow you to store work completed during your time in the Writing Arts major in a structured way so when you get to Portfolio Seminar you are able to find and access it without any problems. In Portfolio Seminar you will be writing a paper in which you refer to and cite from your own work. Therefore, you need to have that work available to you when you get to the course. By designing this portfolio and backing up your work, you can be sure to have access to it regardless of if your computer crashes, your flash drive is lost, and so on.
To complete the assignment, you will have to create a folder structure on your computer that mirrors your time in the major, the classes you take, and when you take them.
For example, you’ll want to create a folder structure that looks something like this (created in Fall 2011; yours will obviously look different):
And so on. All work for those classes will go in the appropriate folder and because it is synced with Dropbox or Spideroak that work will automatically be backed-up.
How Syncing Works
Syncing in the process by which documents and folders on your computer are backed-up to a server, and documents and folders on the server are replicated on your computer. The goal is to have the items on your computer and on the server be exactly the same.
To do this, Dropbox and Spideroak create mechanisms for allowing you to decide which items you want to be synced.
With Dropbox, when you install the software a Dropbox folder will be placed on your computer. Anything you put in that folder will be synced with the server (and any other device that has access to your Dropbox account, such as a smart phone or another computer.
With Spideroak, when you install the software they create a window which has your computer’s folder structure replicated in it. When in the Advanced mode, you go in and check boxes next to the individual folders and/or files that you want synced.
Though the mechanisms for syncing are different, they accomplish the same goals: backing up your work and syncing your computer with what is on the server. Both give you the freedom to choose which documents to sync. For the purposes of the assignment, you’ll be syncing the Writing Arts folder and all sub-folders, as well as the files, that you have put in them.
Getting Started with and Setting up Dropbox
To download and install Dropbox and create your portfolio, compete the following steps:
1. Go to Dropbox and click the giant blue Download Dropbox button and then follow the very easy instructions. Because the instructions are so easy and their help instructions so clear I’m just going to link to how to do things rather than replicate them.
1a. If you want to install TrueCrypt, here is the time to do it. Following their Beginner’s Tutorial quite closely.
2. Either create your Portfolio in the new Dropbox folder than has been created or move an already created folder to the Dropbox folder. These folders should automatically sync with the server. And, any time you add something new to the portfolio (or anywhere in the Dropbox folder), as long as you have auto-sync set up, it will automatically sync with the server and back up your work.
3. When finished with your final project, share the portfolio with me.
And that’s it.
Getting Started with and Setting up Spideroak
To download and install Spideroak and create your portfolio, compete the following steps:
1. Go to Spideroak and create an account by clicking the giant orange Get Started Now button. You will be brought to a screen that asks you to create an account. Create the account (skip the Promo Code field).
2. You will be brought to a screen that automatically asks you to download the application to your desktop. Do so. Under the download screen is your username and an access code, with some instructions. You will need that access code. Follow the instructions, which reads:
Important: Once you have installed the application and opened it, be sure you follow Step 2 completely: choose Create First Device. This allows you to name your computer and Spideroak to recognize it.
3. Follow the rest of the instructions and when complete open Spideroak. You will see a screen that looks like this:
4. Click the Advanced tab. This will allow you to choose which folder you want to backup. Find the “writing arts” folder you created above and select the check box next to it. This selects the folder and everything in it.
5. Click Save. This starts the backup system, which you can see in action by going back to the Overview tab.
Congratulations, you have just backed-up your work for the first time! It is now stored both on your computer and the Spideroak servers.
6. In order to share a folder(s) with others (which you will need to do for this module and Portfolio Seminar) watch the following video:
The confusing section of the video is what to do once you have created the share space. Simply email the secure URL to whomever you want to share the folder(s) with. They will click on the link and will be able to see the folder(s) and their contents.
- Create a Writing Arts folder structure that represents and anticipates when you have/will take Writing Arts courses.
- Install Dropbox (with TrueCrypt if you’d like) or Spideroak following the above instructions.
- When you complete your final paper for this module (the written portion of your audio), put it in the Intro to Writing Arts folder. I only accept .doc or docx files. Name the file:
- module 1: tfwf12-mod1-audio-yourlastname.
- module 2: tfwf12-mod2-audio-yourlastname.
- module 3: tfwf12-mod3-audio-yourlastname.
Also include the log of your blog posts and comments. Name that file:
- module 1: tfwf12-mod1-bloglog-yourlastname.
- module 2: tfwf12-mod2-bloglog-yourlastname.
- module 3: tfwf12-mod3-bloglog-yourlastname.
- Go through the share process for Dropbox or Spideroak and share your entire portfolio (not just the Intro to Writing Arts folder) with BW to this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.