Moving into the cloud

So, what is "The Cloud"? The Cloud generally refers to the web at large, and specifically if you have your data "in the cloud" your data is actually saved to a website (like Google Drive or Mega) - rather than to your local computer.

One of the biggest advantages to storing your files on a website, is that if you ever have a crash on one of your devices, you haven't lost everything - your files are still safe and sound where you left them.

If you are thinking about moving into the cloud, the first thing I recommend is moving your email to Gmail. No longer will you have to move your email from one computer to another when you buy new hardware each time.

As smartphones and tablets become increasingly more popular, people now need to access their stuff from lots of different devices at once. The most requested example of this is email. With Gmail you can install the official Gmail app on your smartphone and have direct access to your email. All of your mail, including sent mail and messages you have diligently sorted into folders, will be synced across all of your devices too.

Google have gone on step further and provide, for free, a full suite of programs which you can use directly in your browser. This suite is called Google Drive (previously Google Docs). There are equivalents of most of the Microsoft Office programs you are familiar with, including Google Document (similar to Microsoft Word), and Google Spreadsheet (similar to Microsoft Excel) etc...

These free programs are very decent, and a good way to get set up if you don't want to exhaust your entire start-up budget on software.

A colleague also recommends Office 365 which is Microsoft equivalent of Google Drive. Microsoft 365 starts at $200 per user per year.

Moving your documents to cloud storage might seem a bit daunting, but it's not essential. Many people prefer to work on their local computer, and many people still prefer the software they are familiar with. All good. The best place to start in this case, is a nice cloud backup solution. I use Crash Plan which is a very reasonable at less than $70 for the year and unlimited storage space.

Worst case scenario, you will have your important data backed up off-site, which is very easy to restore when you need to.