Let’s start with what I hear most of abut the “The Cloud”. Most people use this term and take a real derogatory tone with it, like it is something we are meant to use, do not have a clue about, and don’t dare ask about. I hear this all the time, “oh it’s in the cloud”
Let’s see if we can clear some of this up. Wikipedia says this about cloud storage,
“Cloud storage is a model of computer data storage in which the digital data is stored in logical pools”
Huh??? Pools, wait I thought this was about clouds, well that sure didn’t clear much up.
Further “The physical storage spans multiple servers (sometimes in multiple locations), and the physical environment is typically owned and managed by a hosting company. These cloud storage providers are responsible for keeping the data available and accessible, and the physical environment protected and running”
Ok, now we are a little closer to language we can follow. Servers are simply computers that have massive drives capable of storing large amounts of information. Think of this a large, ok very large, chest of drawers. Your cloud storage will be one of those drawers.
When the average user, you and I, want cloud storage we sign up at a cloud provider and are assigned an amount of space, a drawer if you will. From there it is simply a matter of logging into your cloud storage service and transferring your files from your computer to your cloud, or your drawer.
Okay, so what should I use the Cloud to store. Documents, Wills, Passports (scanned copies of course), tax returns, home insurance, warranty information, anything important that comes to you in an electronic format, pictures, music, books, anything that you have on your PC that you basically don’t want to lose. If you have a backup drive, anything that is on that drive can be transferred to cloud storage. Papers you don’t want to lose in a catastrophe can be scanned to an electronic file and saved on your cloud.
As you start, word to the wise, once you have cloud storage, log in and setup folders to organize your files. Do this before you begin uploading or saving your files. If you are like me, folders and files on my PC are not the most organized, this is your chance to get back on the right road, use it. For example, my Microsoft Cloud Account has folders labelled, Attachments, Documents, Pictures. You of course will create your own system, take advantage early and be organized.
Now the business end, are your files safe.
In short, yes, you never hear reports of the large cloud companies getting hacked, so using a cloud storage system is safe as it can get. Does that mean the systems can’t be hacked, no, but it certainly seems safer these days than banks and your personal cards.
Can my files be lost, unlikely, I am not sure on the amount of redundancy, but I am sure your information is backed up on multiple servers in multiple locations.
Where do I get cloud storage, well chances are good you already have cloud storage, at least you do if you use an iPhone or iPad. When you activate your iPhone or iPad you automatically receive 5 Gigabytes of iCloud storage. If you need more storage, this can be purchased in sizes of 50 Gigabytes, 200 Gigabytes and 2 Terabytes for a monthly fee.
Microsoft, this is my Cloud of choice, offers 1 Terabyte Cloud storage, One Drive, with a Microsoft Office 365 account. Office 365 offers all the popular office programs, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook Email, etc plus your subscription includes the One Drive cloud storage. If you use or need Office, this is a the choice for you.
There are other choices out there, Google Drive, Amazon, Drop Box and others. Google drive starts with 15 Gigabytes for free, additional storage available for purchase again on a monthly basis. Do your own research and find what works for your needs. Up front you don’t have to know how much space you will need, start with the free service amount and as use storage if more space is needed you can simply upgrade your plan.
As an added bonus, once you have a cloud service you take you books, pictures music anywhere. They are accessible on your smart phone, iPad, Laptop and if at home can be projected on your TV, with the appropriate app installed, for all to see at no extra cost, and another bonus, all these apps are free.