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Outside Services

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Many times when a new project is getting off the ground the quickest and cheapest solution may seem to call for the use of prepackaged services provided by third-party vendors. This might mean using a web application like Dropbox to share your data, or hiring a web-hosting company to serve your web pages.

Many of these services are free or very cheap, and therefore very tempting. They are also in wide use, so you will almost surely have a colleague that recommends their use. There are, however, a couple of things to keep in mind before starting to use one of these services.

First, since many of these services have 'click-through' agreements where you merely click the 'ok' button, you have very limited or no legal protection for your data, and most of these services reserve the right to change their terms without notice.

Second, some of these services are built to share material publicly and lack critical protections to ensure that your data stays private.

Penn and SAS recognize the value these services can provide and the University has put together some guidelines and considerations for the use of "Cloud" services. You can read more about these at: http://www.upenn.edu/almanac/volumes/v56/n27/cloud.html