Long gone are the days when most files only lived on a local computer. The past several years have seen cloud-based storage come into its own in a big way. No matter what your needs, either to store and back up your own business files or to collaborate with colleagues on the other side of town (or the other side of the country), there is a cloud storage solution to suit your needs. Cloud services are not just for traditional computers anymore, either.
Here is a roundup of devices that use the cloud to provide powerful functionality that goes wherever you do:
The Smartphone in Your Pocket.
Okay, it’s probably not a surprise that a phone is a cloud-storage based gadget. You may not realize all the ways in which your phone can leverage the cloud to your advantage, however; nor the ways in which it is already doing so. If your email syncs between your laptop computer and your phone, for instance, that’s effectively an example of the cloud at work. In addition to email, myriad other apps and services allow you to access your important files anywhere you are. Some services, such as Google Drive, even let you make changes to files within your virtual data storage without ever downloading them to your phone or computer. The less you need to shuffle files around, the more efficient your work will be.
Trading Laptops for Tablets.
Depending on the nature of your work, you may be surprised at how well a powerful tablet device can meet your needs. Most tablets have very limited storage compared to what is available in laptop or desktop computers, but cloud storage quickly negates this disadvantage. In fact, researchers with iHS are finding that the average amount of storage in both tablets and smartphones is decreasing. Consumers are choosing devices with less storage, and hardware makers are offering more tablet and phone models with lower amounts of storage. Such devices are the result of the explosion in cloud-based storage and applications. There’s no need to cram your tablet with all the data it can hold when you can access a world of data, including all of your own files, via the cloud. Entrepreneurs, journalists, educators, marketers and many other professionals are discovering that a tablet and access to a virtual data room make working on the go easier than ever.
Personal Cloud Technology.
As with any innovation, there are caveats about cloud computing and cloud-based storage. Some people are concerned about the privacy of their data, and, with constant news about security breaches and alleged government spying, it’s not hard to understand why. These concerns are even more important for professionals who work with other people’s data. If your clients are entrusting you with their personal data, especially sensitive data, cloud storage may feel like the wrong answer.
Many of these concerns can be alleviated by using “personal cloud” devices. These are combination devices which provide local file storage and backup facilities, but also make files available via the Internet. They enable you to maintain the privacy and security of your data, while also having the benefits of a cloud-based storage service. These devices are network-enabled, meaning that all of the computers in your home or office can connect to them. Some of them will sync with another device at a different location, which provides the benefit of off-site backup. If you keep one device at home and sync it with one in the office, the loss of one device will not mean the loss of all your data. Finally, because these devices are personal, you can avoid the fees of using a cloud-based storage system. After the initial cost and setup of the device, it’s free to use forever.
Computers You Can Wear.
With the 2013 release of Google Glass and growing rumors about an unannounced “iWatch” from Apple, wearable computers have rocketed into the public consciousness. These and other “wearable computers” depend greatly, if not entirely, on cloud-based services. Other, more limited devices already fall into this category, such as the Fitbit and other devices which track your activity levels and other health-related data. Fitness devices don’t connect to cloud storage for access to files in the same way as a computer, phone or tablet would, but they can upload consistent data about your activity habits and some vital statistics which can assist you in pursuing your health goals. More capable devices, such as Google Glass or the Pebble Watch, enable a much wider set of features related to the cloud, such as checking email, sending messages, looking up information on the go and accessing your own files. These devices are in their early stages, but cloud-based computing and storage are making them possible in ways that were unthinkable a few years ago.
If you have not yet looked into cloud storage, it’s well worth taking the time to see what’s out there. If you have basic cloud storage, it may be time to take a fresh look. New devices, services and apps are bringing in a whole new world of flexible, powerful functionality.