Up in the Cloud

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What is the Cloud I hear you ask!

The simple answer is a computer somewhere else, that you access via the internet.

There are three main uses of the cloud for home users. File storage, file sharing and backing up data. Here, we will take a glance at what each of these functions can do for you.

Cloud storage operates like a remote hard drive or server, used to share and access your files across devices. Utilising services such as iCloud, Dropbox or Google Drive, it can be just as easy as saving files straight to your computer. Most of us already employ the cloud for storage without thinking about it for our emails, with web based accounts like iCloud, Gmail and Office 365 providing space, we can access our messages on the go. 

Here at Mac Aid, we utilise Dropbox, as so that every staff member can access what they need through the finder (or in Windows Explorer on PC) at any time in the office or when working remotely. This keeps the system simple and easy to use even for the non techs in the building! 

All of these services can house any file type, even allowing music and videos to be played straight from the service’s website or app. Storing your files on the cloud gives you the convenience of retrieving your data on any device, from anywhere you have internet.

Going hand in hand with a few of the file storing services, is file sharing. File sharing makes it easy for multiple people to work on one document, often at the same time, from different locations. iCloud (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) and Google (Docs and Sheets) are the prime examples of this providing solutions for text and spreadsheet documents that can be created and edited by several people simultaneously. This means that you can share both work documents and personal lists alike – real time shopping lists or business or home account spreadsheets that can be modified on the go.

Photo sharing has also become much simpler with the likes of iCloud Photo, Google Photo and Flickr. iCloud Photo enables photos being directly saved to the drive when you take them, where they can be sorted manually or by face recognition, and easily shared from there.

While online storage of documents, photos and videos is useful and frees up space on your device by housing your files on the cloud, it’s not the same as doing a back up. A backup is a copy of your files that isn’t available to edit, which stays in its original state. Because of that it can be a very important snapshot of the files you had at the time of that backup. Cloud backups are designed to protect your data and ensure continuous backup and easy restoration of files in the event of malware, damage or theft.

Backup services like iCloud, IDrive, Backblaze and Carbonite, work in the background, backing up files and data, scanning for changes along the way. Cloud backup stores multiple versions, so if you accidentally overwrite a file, you can still recover earlier backups. Trusted backup providers refuse to compromise customer data privacy or allow anyone else to do so. There is one caveat with iCloud, that set up of the backup for files needs to be carefully considered, as data loss can occur if not.

Cloud backup should be accompanied by local hard drive backups to provide extra peace of mind.