How make your Cloud Data public but still keep it private

Being able to share data publicly via a website is very attractive for lots of different reasons, especially when you want to give the widest possible reach to your data, from an internet search perspective.

However, there are times that you wish the data to be visible, but also be able to control who has access to it. We had a good example of this recently from an educational establishment who uses SMEStorage with their own FTP Server to make available course content publicly to remote learning students. They wanted the course data and titles of files to be available and entered into search engines to attract future  students, but they also wanted to be able to control access to the data so that only students who were enrolled on the course could download the content.

One of the features of the SMEStorage cloud Gateway is that it enables you to work with your cloud data but overlays certain features and functions that you may not get from your provider. One of these is encryption. If you upload your data to your storage cloud via SMEStorage then you can choose to add an encryption key which then encrypts the data with an AES encryption cipher (key) that you choose and which only you know. This is the key private key you then need to share with anyone who wants access to the files.

Lets look at the steps of this in practice:

1. Upload your data to your cloud via SMEStorage and choose to encrypt it. The key is not stored on the platform and is known only by you.

2. When the file is stored you will notice that in the Web File Manager it has a key next to it that notifies you it is encrypted.

3. If you now set this file to be public in the File Manager then it is stored in your public files page which is of the format http://www.storagemadeeasy.com/username/files.

4. If a user then clicks on the file that you made public but which you also encrypted then they will be asked to enter the encryption key before they can download the file.

This works above all file storage clouds that SMEStorage supports, such as Google Docs, SkyDrive, DropBox, Amazon S3 etc. It is a great way to be able to limit access to files but still make them available.

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Android SME Cloud File Manager updated to 1.7

We have updated our Android SMEStorage Cloud File Manager on the Google Android Marketplace to version 1.7. This new release has the following changes:
– Enabled Notes to be emailed as attachments
– Accessing notes changed to a double tap
– Added support for HTTPS on login (https is slower)
– Added support to upload any file from phone to storage cloud chosen
– Added support for icloud, safesync & Sharepoint clouds. SharePoint can only be used by SMEStorage business accounts.

The next release will feature HTTP / FTP support for local file upload over Wi Fi and also sync from ‘cloud to phone’ / ‘phone to cloud’ scheduling, a much requested feature.

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Sneak Preview – next version of Android SME Cloud File Manager supports Galaxy Tab and other Android Tablets

We’re almost done with updating a new version of our Android SMEStorage application that will also feature optimisations for Android Tablets, such as the Galaxy Tab. There are also a whole host of new features including:

– In App Registration

-Enhanced Sync (features now sync on login of all directories mapped to phone for sync and from phone to cloud)

– Enhanced Notes featuring categories and now sync

– Added support for Google Storage and DropBox

– Many other small tweaks and additions

We expect to release this into the Android Marketplace as an update to the existing App on Monday. Users who purchased directly from us will be able to update by navigating to “my cloud add-on’s” from the sidebar link after login.



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SME adds Cloud Storage Import/Export Exchange

We’ve added a new feature on our website for users of our Lifetime Cloud or Organisation Cloud packages which is something we are calling ‘The Cloud Import/Export Exchange’. It provides the ability to move data from one Storage Cloud to another.

This can be useful for users who, rather than wanting an aggregated view of all their data, simply want to move data from one Cloud to another as a one-time operation, for example from Amazon S3 to Google Storage, or from RackSpace to Amazon S3, etc.

If you are a Lifetime cloud or Organisation Cloud user, to access the Cloud Import/Export Exchange, simply click on “Cloud Import/Export” from the sidebar after login.

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iSMEStorage 2.0 is released

iSMEStorage 2.0 is now in the App Store. It has a ton of new features, which you can refer to from our prior post. There is unfortunately a bug that was picked up on release when using the folder actions when in the Cloud Files view which crashes the App. We’ve already issued a 2.01 release fix for this and this should be in the App Store around about the 5th November if Apple keep to their normal weeks approval timeline.

In the meantime we put together a short slide set so you can have a quick browse of the features in the 2.0 release:

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Further news on iSMEStorage 2.0 for iPhone and iPad

We’ve just released the new version of iSMEStorage to the App Store. We put so much effort into it that is has become a major release version rather than the 1.67 version we had previously intended.

The release includes the following features:

Enhanced Security: The App can now be assigned a PIN over and above the normal login (for security of local files)

Better local file sharing: Added ability to email local files as file attachments

Sync from any Cloud: It is now possible to sync any cloud directory (from any of the clouds we support) to your phone. You can do this with as many directories as you wish and can set the sync directory from within the App.

The first App to offer cut and paste between clouds: We’ve added cut and paste of files between cloud directories and even between different storage clouds used the concept of File and Folder Actions! You can also now use the Cloud Clipboard to store multiple files that you wish to cut and paste in this manner.

Fully fledged FTP Server: You can now turn iSMEStorage into an FTP Server and batch upload as many files locally as you wish.

Fully Fledged Local File Manager: We’ve beefed up the local file operations so you can now cut and paste files between directories locally and also added the ability to create and use folders as categories for the Memos and Voice Memos sections of the App.

Enhanced Text Editor: We’ve beefed up the text editor so it is now full screen and has a word search as many of you requested. We also added the ability to edit any local text file as you wanted and enabled .html .css .xml and any other type of text format file to be edited.

Google Maps integration: The GEO location of where a file was uploaded and where a file is stored is now integrated with a Google Maps view.

Enhanced Cloud Support: Added support for DropBox, Zimbra Briefcase and Files Anywhere (Web Advanced Plan required)

Email to Cloud Support: Added FileBox menu option so that you can easily get to file attachments that you have mailed to your Cloud

Mark Folders as Favourites: Added support for marking folders as favourites from directly within the App.

Web Viewer fixed: Amended Web Viewer so that state is kept when browsing in menu.

Organisation Ready: Added icon for Organisation Folders and Organisation Support for our business users



Apple normally approves within a week so we are hoping that the App will be released around the 20/21st October unless we have to do any amendments as required by Apple.

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Understanding collaboration and sharing options using the SME Multi-Cloud Platform

There are many ways which you can use the SMEStorage Organisation Multi-Cloud Gateway Platform to collaborate with colleagues and business partners. We’ll have a look at some of the ways this can be done and provides some help and tips so that you can pick the best mechanism to collaborate.

**Remember that the options outlined below work with any of the clouds we support through our Gateway**

Email Sharing (Individual files) using the SMEStorage Gateway:

You can share a file from any of your mapped cloud storage providers using email from the web file managers or the windows tooling.  The user will be notified that a file is shared with him in an email from SMEStorage. To access this file the user has to login to SMEStorage so if he does not have an account he will need to create a free account. The reason for this is that this mechanism of sharing lets you assign an expiry time for the link so you can, for example, set the link to expire in two days.

If you are sharing files via our mobile clients then the files are shared via an email link that is created directly on the device and sent via the device’s email.

**Note** The email branding and email account can be changed to your own organisation if you have a SMEStorage Organisation account.

Email sharing (multiple files) using the SMEStorage Gateway

You can use the cloud clipboard from the Rich File Manager to add files that you want to share, and these can be from several different storage clouds. Once you have added all the files you want to share, you can again set expiry links and the email that is sent is done using the SMEStorage branding and the recipient needs to login to SMEStorage or create a free account to access the files.

The Cloud Clipboard can also be used from the iPhone/iPad, Android, BlackBerry, mobile clients and the list of files are shared with links directly from the email client of the device.

**Note** As above the email branding and email account can be changed to your own organisation if you have a SMEStorage Organisation account.

Sharing Files using a URL

You can get a SMEStorage URL or TinyURL for any file and you can send this to a anyone via email or use in a blog etc. Users will not require a SMEStorage account to access the file. This URL does not expire and will only be unusable if you change any details of the file otherwise it will always be able to be used to download the file.

This options is available from the Web file managers, Windows, Mac, and also iPhone/iPad, Android, BlackBerry, mobile clients.
Making Files Public

You can set a file to be public from the web, windows tools or from the mobile clients. Once a file is made public it is accessible from your public files page which you can find on your sidebar when you login to SMEStorage. You can share the link to your public files page and users do not need to be logged in to access it. All files shared on this page are indexable by search engines and available for anyone to download. You can of course choose to encrypt files publicly shared which means that anyone wishing to download the file will need to have been given a password as they will be taken to a password page before they can download the file.

Business Collaboration Groups


Business Groups are one of the collaboration features of SMEStorage that works with Individual Accounts as well as with Organisation Accounts. The basic premise is that you can create a Group and invite users to it. This is very easy to do. Any file content that you then share with the Group will be shared with all members of the group. Group members will receive an automated email message letting them know that a new file has been shared with them.

Members can also receive Twitter messages when a file is shared with them if they have chosen to enter their Twitter details in their SMEStorage user preferences. You can also choose to allow other users to share files with your business group, or decide whether to let group members be visible to each other (These last two options are only available when setting up business groups using the rich File Manager from the web).

So what are groups useful for ? Well we polled some of our users to see what they were using them for and we found some interesting uses. One of our users is using Groups as a way to keep his sales partners updated with corporate product collateral and technical documentation. He has formed what he calls a “content sharing network”.  Another of our users is in a band and after doing some live recording he tweaks the results in Garage Band and shares them with his bandmates.

The key to business groups is that they let you share content with external parties, or let them share content with you and you can create and manage the either from the web, Windows Cloud Dashboard, or directly from your mobile client.

Mixing File Sharing options with Encryption

All of the above options can be mixed with file encryption, even when making file public. You could for example, choose to make 1o files public, all of which are encrypted and no-one would be able to download them without the password key that you provide. The same approach works for files shared over email, or via URL or even with collaboration group members.

For example we have a user who wanted to figure out the best way of having his users access file without having to login but without making the file available to any users who came across them. To this end he uploaded his files to Amazon S3 and encrypted them on upload. He shared the public url of the page with his  user-base but gave them the key to access the files.

One last note is that we would ask you to please review our Terms of Use before sharing files. Our platform cannot be used for sharing copyrighted content, such as movies, Mp3’s or e-books.

How to Encrypt Files

Files can only be encrypted using the web or Windows Dashboard clients. The Web, Windows tools, Mac and Mobile tools will recognise an encrypted file and ask you for a password if you try and access it.

Organisation Folders

Organisation folders are only available to be used with our Organisation Cloud offering and are analogous to public folder shares  for user of an Organisation. When the folders are created all content within the folder is shared with all users of the Organisation Cloud, unless permissions are set to prevent this for individual users. They are a great way to share files and information within an Organisation. Commonly used folder names can be things such as ‘Marketing’, ‘Human Resources’, Projects’ etc.

Organisation Folders: Creating

Organisation Admins of our Organisation Cloud offering can choose to create Organisation folders by checking  the “is Organisation folder” checkbox. A special folder is created that is denoted by a briefcase. In the example above we have created an Organisation folder called ‘Marketing’ that is stored on Amazon S3.

When an Organisation folder is created all members of the Organisation Cloud automatically view this folder, and any content, in their file tree when they login. It is a great way to keep users updated on company information.

Organisation users can also upload to these folders.

Organisation Folders: Protecting

You can assign permissions on Organisation Folders as to which users have permission to view, access or upload to the Organisation Folders. This can be accessed by clicking on the”Org Folders” from the sidebar when logged in via the web.

Organisation Folders: Filebox

Each Organisation Folder (and Individual Account) also has a FileBox address(see the FileBox section for more information on FileBox) in which Organisation Folders can be assigned a special email address and emails and content can be sent directly to the Cloud Folder from the email address that is registered with the user from SMEStorage.

For Individual users, they can accept the default FileBox address or assign their own from My Account->Options. The administrator of the Organisation Cloud needs to assign the FileBox unique names for Organisation Folders and distribute them to users.

FileBox: Sharing email attachments.

Organisations have different challenges. Having emails in inboxes appertaining to Marketing, or Hunan Resources, or clients is fine, but it’s easy for this to be ‘lost’ in some users inbox and not available to the whole department.

FileBox changes this because it allocates a unique email to each user and also to Organisation Folders. Each user of the Organisation Cloud can send or CC an email to either personal or the public Organisational folder and the email will be stored as a text along with any attachments so that it is instantly stored in the correct place and available to all Organisation users.

The way FileBox works for users is as follows:

1. Users have an extra setting in their My Account-> Options page which appertains to Filebox

2. The user is given the option of assigning a keyword to the filebox@SMEStorage.com email address so that the end email address become filebox.<keyword>@storagemadeeasy.com.

3. This is your unique address to send or forward an email. All emails that are received to this address that are sent from your registered SMEStorage email address will be added to a folder called “My Filebox”

4. You can choose whether just to store emails or emails and attachments.

5. Within the Filebox folder the subject line of the email will become a folder name and within this will be stored the email, as a text file, and any attachments if this is the configuration you chose.

The way FileBox works for and Organisation:

Organisation Admins get some extra features from the ‘Org Folders’ sidebar options. Here Admins can also choose the keywords for the Organisation Folders they have created so that email information and attachments can be sent directly to this folder. As with the Individual use, the subject line becomes the folder name.

**Note** You must send the emails from the email address registered with your Organisation Cloud for the emails to be picked up**

**Note** FileBox emails are processed every 5 minutes so it may take 5 to 10 minutes for the email to appear in your FileBox

Notifications

It is possible to use Business Groups to create notifications for internal Organisation users (as well as for external users of a business Group). We will outline how this can be done:

Setting Up Notifications:

To create notifications on any of these 3 things for files:

– Name

– Description

– File extension

Create a business group with all the members that you want to receive notifications. The members will receive an email and need to accept being a member of the business group.

Once this is done:

1. Navigate to whatever folder you want to use for notifications on the Web File Manager (not the lite file manager)

2. Go to the business groups tab that you just created and click on it

3. Click ‘Auto Rule’

4. Decide what the text is and the type of things you want to look for in a file

5. Decide whether this is only for the current folder outlined or also sub folders

6. Click’ Add Rule’

Now whenever files of the type you specified get added to a folder the group members will automatically receive an email.

Organisation Cloud Notifications

Users of the SMEStorage Organisation Cloud offering can set up special type of notifications on Organisation Folders. These can be accessed by Organisation Cloud Admins from the sidebar Option “Org Folders” and selecting the notifications tab. You can then set whether users get email notifications for all file types of specific names or extensions.

When any member of the Organisation Cloud drops a file in this folders or send a file to it using FileBox then if it matches the rule you setup in the notifications all users will receive an email letting them know that new content has been added.

Document Collaboration

Collaboration on revisions of different documents is currently in beta and will be released soon. This will enable users to collate document versions and step through them and mark the changes and create a final version of the document.

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Organisation Cloud File Server Updates

We rolled out some Organisation Cloud updates on our web platform in the last few weeks that are worth highlighting:

Lite File Manage now supports Tags

Our Lite File Manager started life as lightweight alternative to the rich Ajax enabled File Manager. Gradually it has been updated so that it has the same functionality as the Ajax enabled File Manager. Tags is one of the last things to be added, and now that it is there it replicates the functionality of the Ajax based file manager but is much more lightweight:

Ability to make a Folder a Favourite item

Many of our mobile users have long requested the ability to make a Folder a favourite so they could click on ‘Favourites’ and easily navigate to a folder structure or set of files. The first step towards enabling this in the mobile platforms was to enable it in the Web platform and API which is now done. Indeed if you are a mobile user, marking a folder as favourite from the web platform should already show up within the Favourites Menu of each of the mobile Apps.

Organisation Folder permission

An Organisation Folder is a public folder that, when created by the Organisation Cloud Administrator, ripples down for every user so that, for example if the Org Cloud Admin creates a folder called ‘HR’, all users would see this folder and anything it contains. Users, by default, could also post to this folder. Many of you wanted to control the permissions on a per user basis to these folders, and we have now implemented this into the platform. The Org Admin can now  set permissions for individual users of the Org Cloud.

Email attachments and files directly to your Organisation Folder

We recently introduced FileBox that enables user to send emails and attachments to a special folder called FileBox. You can read more about this here. We’ve also added this into The Organisation Cloud so that Org Admin’s can set a special Filebox email address for Organisation Folders enabling users of The Org Cloud to email file attachments directly to an Organisation Folder.

Private Cloud Providers for Organisation Users

One of the biggest updates we have implemented is to enable the Organisation Cloud Admin to control end users ability to add their own File clouds. When is this useful ? Take Google Apps for example. If your Organisation has bought into Google Apps then each of your users will have their own Google Docs account. Your user will want to use their own Google Docs Account, and you may want to implement a separate Google Docs Account to store shared Organisation Files. This is the kind of scenario this caters for. Of course you can also let users add their own private clouds or implement other shared Organisation storage, such as Amazon S3. This feature can be enabled in the My Account->Options tab of the Organisation Admin account.

Enhanced Auditing

We’ve beefed up the file auditing capabilities of the whole Organisation Cloud Platform which enables an Organisation Admin to control exactly what gets audited for each user..  We’ve also added filters and enhanced the export abilities so that you can export logs directly into CSV for example.

File Locking

We’ve added the ability to explicitly lock files. This is useful if a file is being worked upon or edited and you want to make the file unavailable to all other users until this has been done.

We’ve already started to move some of these new features into our desktop and mobile tooling and we will start pushing out some new versions of these soon.

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SME Cloud File Manager for Android released to Google Android Marketplace: Access S3, SkyDrive, MobileMe, Google Docs + other Clouds

We’ve just released the SMEStorage Google Android Application to the Android Market place. It offers similar functionality to our iPhone Application. in particular:

Manage and work with: Google Docs, SkyDrive, Amazon S3, RackSpace Cloud Files, MobileMe, Mezeo Personal Cloud Storage, FTP, WebDav, Box.net, SkyDrive and Live Mesh. If you work with more than one cloud then you can see all your cloud files in one virtual view.

Sync Files: Directly to and from your phone

Create Notes: And sync back to your underlying cloud

Share files: Via Email, Twitter and by getting a TinyURL copied to the Android clipboard

Collaborate: Manage and create business collaboration groups direct from your phone

Cloud Sync: Sync the meta data in your underlying clouds so that your file view is always up-to-date

Change Cloud Providers: If you are working with more than one cloud file on your device then you can change your primary cloud provider direct from the device.

– Local View: Files that are viewed are stored locally and be viewed from a local file manager direct on the device.

– Use Filebox: To email files directly to your device. More on this here

You can find out more on these features and more watching the video overview below:

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