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As a student, I wore a USB flash drive around my neck—or tried to anyway. Usually, it ended up entangled with earbud cords in my backpack, and more than once it ended up left sticking out of the tower in whatever computer lab I last visited. Still, I couldn’t help being impressed with the technology. Since I relied on the campus for printers and high-speed internet (yeah, I was a little cheap), what could be better than carrying all my files and documents around with me wherever I went without having to lug around my giant laptop? Sample paper on the projector for my students—easy. PowerPoint presentation—no problem.

Then, last year, while I was working on a blog post about cloud storage, I started playing around with SkyDrive and Google Drive.  My conversion was nearly instantaneous and all but imperceptible; after two weeks, I had no idea where I’d last stashed my flash drive. (Just now, I’m thinking I should probably locate it.) It turns out that with cloud storage you can do all the things you do with flash drives, but you don’t need to worry about forgetting where you left your storage device. Plus, cloud storage providers give you more gigabytes of capacity for free than I’d paid $20 to get with my physical device. SkyDrive—which is now called OneDrive—gives you 7 GBs. Google Drive gives you 15.

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Recently, I learned about something else you can do with files in the cloud. I like to write a little fiction when I’m not concentrating on my day job, and for the past couple of years I’ve been looking for a way to post my stories online. I have a blog for essays and book reviews, but some of my fiction gets pretty lengthy. In addition to the hassles of formatting cut-and-pasted Word documents onto the blog on my end, readers would also find it difficult to get through lengthy stories stuck to monitors or tiny mobile device screens. And the stories would be difficult to print. My contact info is on my blog, and once in a while I get emails from people interested in my longer works. But I really wanted all of it to be more readily available.

Sharing Links to Publish Files

Turns out you can link to any files you have saved in the cloud—be they Word docs, PDFs, pictures or videos. I have a story titled “The Plateau” for instance that’s over 9,700 words long, which would make for a very cumbersome blog post. All I have to do to make it available to readers of my blog—or on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other social media platform—is use OneDrive to create a link. To do this:

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  • Open your OneDrive folder and find the file you want to link to
  • Right click on the file and hover over the OneDrive icon
  • Click on the “Share” option that appears
  • Click on the “Get a link” option that comes up in the left column OneDrive pasted link resized 600

OneDrive will also give you a shorter link if you click on that option beneath the link field. You’ve got icons for various social media right in the share window, but you can copy-and-paste the link anywhere you want. After getting a link for “The Plateau,” for instance, I went to my blog, where I have a page for “Short Stories.” I signed in to edit the page, wrote the title, and clicked to add the hyperlink. Then I pasted the OneDrive link and saved the update. Now anyone who goes to the Short Stories page on my blog will find a link to “The Plateau.” (Warning: the story is rated R.)

Make sure your settings for the link are read-only so no one can destroy your files. And that’s it—your cloud file has been published for anyone to access. Anyone interested in my story can open a PDF, which is easy to print or scroll through on an ereader. Now I just have to decide what else I might like to publish.