First things first, this is not an in-depth view of various technical cloud topics. Instead, this article is meant for those who want to have a better general understanding of what the cloud is and how it can impact their day-to-day activities or improve efficiency.
What is the Cloud?
To understand how the cloud works and how it can help you, you must first understand what the cloud is exactly. One of the easiest ways to think of the cloud is by starting with cloud storage and expanding from there.
Whether it be home, work or school most people use a computer to accomplish a variety of tasks. In this age, most people are relatively familiar with files and storage, files being word documents, music, etc.… and storage being your hard drive space. A lot of people have flash drives or backup storage drives to store files from your computer’s hard drive on as an extra backup or to make those files portable. All these devices are pretty standard practice. Then the “cloud” entered and made life even easier.
The “cloud” is essentially a machine, just like your laptop or desktop, but it’s a machine that you don’t have to maintain or take care of. You just get to use it, and all the technical stuff is taken care of from there. Most people use the cloud all the time without even realizing it; this happens on smartphones and the majority of email and is one of the easiest examples is cloud storage.
Cloud storage is one among many features cloud services offer. Cloud storage is essentially a computer hard drive that someone else maintains, secures, and backs-up for you. This storage is then always available to you just as long as you have an internet connection.
How Can the Cloud Help You?
Cloud storage greatly increases productivity, sharing, and backing-up of your files. To use it, all you simply have to do is find the one that’s right for you and sign-up! There are a ton of cloud services you already use or may have heard about, and many are free. Some of the better known examples are OneDrive, Box, Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, Bitcasa, and Cubby. Although these are free, they do have paid versions offering more features or additional storage space, and there are other services that are pay to use only.
Using the cloud to store your documents, pictures, or files, is an easy way to access and have a backups, but most storage accounts provide sharing and collaborative capabilities also. A common type of document that is shared in most workplaces is spreadsheets or “living” documents. By using a cloud storage account, you can easily share these types of documents out to anyone’s email for access. Some even offer online collaboration, so the document stays synced real time. The feature is a big deal since it allows multiple people to make edits to the same document they can get work done in a more efficient manner.
What Cloud is Right for You?
There are many free cloud storage accounts out there, and they each have their own special “features” that they excel in; which can make it difficult to choose. The best way to choose is to figure out what is most important feature to you in relation to the task you’re trying to accomplish. Are you just syncing random photos of your road trips, tasty looking dinner dishes, and pet photos that don’t need security? Or are you storing sensitive personal or financial information?
In the first scenario, security may not be that important to you, but you may need a lot of storage to accommodate the file sizes. In the second scenario, security would be super important, and the amount of storage doesn’t matter if your files cannot be secure. The best way to ensure that you get what you need is to define clearly what’s important to you before shopping around. Then do your research on each service to be sure it meets your specific needs.
What Cloud Do I Use?
Personally, I tend to use and have always loved my OneDrive account. OneDrive is backed by one of the more secure cloud networks, Microsoft Azure, but also starts you off with free 15GB of storage and easily syncs all phone photos. Syncing my photos is a big bonus to me. Like most people, I have never enjoyed the necessity of hooking my phone up to my computer and phishing through the files to get what I want only to then have to back it all up in multiple places (more importantly, I always forget to do it.) So, OneDrive syncs everything and I can access it and share it with anyone at any time I want, and it is already backed up for me!
Get Your Cloud On
Cloud services, especially “cloud storage” is a fantastic technology! It helps improve work productivity, collaboration, and ease of accessibility and sharing. There are many ways throughout my work week that I leverage the cloud to assist in my day-to-day activities. The more you use it, the more you realize its power and the different ways it’s there to help you.
Get a OneDrive Account!