It's time to move more to the cloud

Published on March 17, 2014 under Technology, Business

Servers on the cloud

Cloud computing has grown by leaps and bounds over the years, despite limitation still present in our ISP infrastructure. From Google Drive to iCloud to even OneDrive, more people who use the internet are using the cloud in some form.

Now I’ve always been reluctant in how I would utilize cloud computing, mainly because I worry about bandwidth speeds and security. However, in 2014 I use the cloud even more than I ever did, and I’ve compiled a list of things you might want to consider getting off your hard drives and into the cloud:

Email: This is a no-brainer. If you’re still holding on to Outlook or other installed software-based email clients, then it’s time to make the change. Even at my own work I’ve forgone using Outlook and instead use a browser-based version of our company email. Outside of work I use Gmail not just for my main email, but as a client for email addresses connected to my websites.

Taking your email client use to the cloud gives you the ability to take it anywhere. From your laptop to your tablet to your smartphone. You really can access it anywhere on any computer. Hence how I can pick it up at both work and home without setting up servers on email client software. If that’s not enough, imagine the joys of responsive email, since most modern mobile devices can handle it.

Contacts: Ever hear from a friend how he/she needs everyone to send him/her information, because they lost their phone? Have you ever lost yours and thus had to go through the hell of reentering your contacts? Plus imagine when you need your address book when you’re not on your primary computer or device.

Moving your address book to the cloud will save you so much trouble. Lose your phone and it’s a simple connection on the new one. Plus if you use multiple devices you will get your contacts anywhere you connect.

Photos: While I still backup my photos to data DVDs, putting them on the cloud is an easy win when you want to show your photos on the fly. It could be a moment where you want to show your recent vacation, or pull up an old photo from the recent past that is in context to a conversation. Facebook has become the popular place to store photos, but I’m more a fan of true photography storage/display services such as SmugMug or Flickr.

Calendars: Like Contacts, it’s just much easier to keep up on appointments, meetings, and reminders by going cloud over local. I used to be reluctant to connect my smartphone to my work email and calendars, but now I can’t imagine work without it. It’s handy if I’m in one meeting and suddenly get a reminder/invite for another, or even if I’m not at my desk to find out where said meeting is.

Taking it further

The above ideas are perfect for the average user, but there is even more I’d tell you to try moving to the cloud. Just make sure though you are fully knowledgeable and informed on security, especially if this involves your employer:

Small Files: While even a T3 connection won’t make a 500MB file upload swiftly, storing smaller items in the cloud is a much easier way to work than constantly turning to thumb drives or networking computers. I’ll use my Dropbox to store zip files of Photoshop actions, PDFs of receipts for recent online purchases (which I’ll move offline later at home), and even just images/information I’m putting aside for blog entries.

Dropbox is my personal choice, but Google, Microsoft, and many smaller companies offer similar services (most have a “free” plan), each offering different features.

Office Documents: This one is a source of debate for many companies, but I’ll be honest that ever since I got into Google Drive/Docs, I stopped even installing MS Office on my computers. The debate does come from security concerns in using a free online service, even if your Google account does have two-step verification.

However, office in the cloud isn’t a fad. Microsoft is there, and so is Apple. I will suggest going cloud for small businesses and especially students or bloggers. For larger companies worried about security, perhaps look into software/services you can install on your own in-house servers. I’m sure even MS has Enterprise/Cloud combos for that. At the very least, free yourself of old habits of writing loads of sticky notes on paper and try out services such as Evernote or Google Keep.

Passwords: You might think this is insane, but with a growing amount of online attacks on larger sites, I’ve moved from trying to remember somewhat complex passwords and instead use software such as KeePass to store very complex ones. I'll back up the password-protected database from KeePass and store it online in a secret place not only for backup rationales, but also to access it with my tablet.

You might think this is insane, but it makes my passwords available to me outside of my house while keeping it off my actual computer. So even if my phone or tablet or laptop are stolen, there is no means on those devices to get my passwords. It’s something worth considering.

Coding: If you’re a hardcore developer using git, then this is nothing new to you. However, the rest of us still playing with local files and FTP uploads might want to consider learning to use the terminal and thus do our codework in the cloud. With setups like git (offered with many hosts), you get version control and added convenience. Plus you gain new marketable skills.

What have you moved to the cloud? Do you disagree with any of my suggestions?

Tags: cloud, email, storage, computing, cloud computing

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