Head in the (tech) Cloud? Or a bit fluffy around the edges?


We often hear talk of ‘The Cloud’ but was is it and more importantly, how do you use it? Here’s our quick (not super tecchie) heads up on the basics.

What is the Cloud? It is essentially an internet based, space saving, data storage service rather than a physical device, although ‘behind the scenes’ of the internet, the Cloud is linked to a network of mega servers all over the world. In basic terms, if you take a photo on your smart phone and upload it to Facebook or Instagram, you are essentially uploading it to the Cloud.

Why do I need the Cloud in my life? If you are storing lots of photos, music or files on your smart phone/ tablet/ laptop/ desktop these will eventually slow your device to a snail’s pace, frustrating the heck out of you, using up space that leaves you deleting things like a maniac or worse still, if your device goes bang/ gets stolen/ is lost, you lose all your precious files! EEK! Cue the Cloud: it’s automatically backed up, stored and saved to your Cloud account all your photos (even the ones you’d hoped you’d deleted), files, music and documents averting catastrophe and saving the day – you just need to login and it’s all there.
You can even run programs via Cloud services such as Adobe or Microsoft Word without the need to install memory munching packages. Just open your browser, eg Chrome or Explorer, and you can open up Google Docs and get cracking on that report. Similarly, open up Spotify to listen to your music collection or Netflix and catch up on TV and films. Clever stuff!
One of the great things about Cloud is that you can share photos privately with family and friends via sites like Flickr without having to stick them all over Facebook. On a more professional level, Google Drive allows you to work with other people collaboratively online.

Sounds great, how do I get some Cloud in my life? Have a mooch around on your devices, you may well find that they have Cloud services built in (personally, I’m an Android, so I have Google Drive on both my phone and tablet, Mrs W however is a iBod – not a tech term, just a Mrs N one – so uses iCloud on her mac, iPhone and iPad). If you are an iBod, follow the prompts on your device to sign up for iCloud, that way all your pics, music, mags, books, notes, movies – your whole life pretty much – is available to you across all your iDevices. For Google Drive, go to Google homepage and click on the icon in the top right hand corner to get started with Google Drive (there’s a little presentation to explain it to you in clear concise language so I won’t try to confuse you here!).

Not convinced? How about giving these a whirl instead?
Set up your own ‘Cloud’ at home in the form of a WiFi connected hard drive like WD’s My Cloud (loads of different brands available on Amazon). Once set up and linked to your device, you can access your hard drive from anywhere.

Free Cloud Apps to get you started:
Dropbox – for Mac, PC, iOS, Android and Blackberry. Very user friendly, 2GB (about 500 photos worth) of free storage, you can upgrade this to 100GB for £6/mth. You can privately see all your files on all your devices and if you want to share them with friends/ family, you can send them a link to access it. Data is kept encrypted.

Google Drive – for Mac, PC, Android, iOS and Blackberry. 15GB of free storage (4000 pics, 1500 songs or thousands of Word docs). Create, edit and share using Cloud based Google Docs. Clever.

Evernote – for Mac, PC, iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows phone. I love Evernote. I use it as my scrapbook in the sky, writing lists (no shocker there!), taking snapshots that I can clip notes to, recording silly audio of the kids, you can use it ‘properly’ though and collate articles, itineraries, maps, confirmations – whatever you fancy really, all neatly filed within notebooks and easily accessible across your linked devices. You can upgrade to ‘premium’ should you choose for £4/mth but I’m happy on the freebie one.

I hope that if you weren’t Cloud savvy before that you feel a bit more in the know now… We always welcome tips and advice here, so if you have some good’uns to share, please do in the comments.

Right, I’m off to empty my busy head into Evernote, safe in the knowledge that the photos I took on my phone of the kids having a water fight earlier are safely stored on my Google Drive *happy face*.

Mrs N x


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