These days it seems all the major technology companies want us to join up and pay a monthly subscription to use their cloud based services, but not many of us understand how it works. So I thought I would share some information on how these services work and how they may help or hinder you.
“The Cloud” is a network of computer servers located around the world. Some servers provide an online service, like Adobe Creative Cloud or MYOB others allow you to store and access your data, like Dropbox or Google Drive or ICloud for Apple or OneDrive by Microsoft. Many of these companies are offering products that allow us to move all our documents and photos online with them and not on your computer so they can keep your data safe and accessible on all your devices. But the spin is not a convincing as the reality. Most of these companies also reside in the United States where the internet is FAST and CHEAP. In Australia we are a bunch of years behind the rest of the world in terms of internet speed and price. So when we upload photos to our iCloud or share documents on our Dropbox it takes a lot of time for this to happen because of our slow internet speed. The cost of uploading gigabytes to these services isn’t cheap especially if you are on a mobile data plan and you are using up 10gigabytes a month just on these cloud services.
I use a combination of Cloud and home storage solutions. Call me traditional but I like to back up my computers onto an external hard drive at home because I have more control over it, plus I am not going to send 1Terabyte or 1000Gigabytes of my information over the internet on my dime, (not to mention the week it would take to upload, and that’s if it does upload correctly). My family has IPads and IPhones so we use the “ICloud” to synchronise them wirelessly and share music and photos and also to back them up as they are a lot smaller in size then my computer. If one or these devices dies, I can just go out and buy a new one and recover all the data from the old one back onto it, no problem at all. When I want to share a lot of photos with my extended family I use “Dropbox”, and put my folder of 100 photos into Dropbox then I share the folder with my family. They then get an email with a link to download the photos at their leisure. This is much easier than sending 20 emails with photo attachments! I have also used “Google Drive” to share documents with colleagues so we can both work on the same document at the same time. and I have used “OneDrive” on my PC’s but didn’t shine to it.
So when looking at your needs, keep your feet firmly planted on the ground and not your head in the clouds, as it may cost you more in your internet usage and speed if you’re not careful. I would consider “Dropbox” for sharing a lot of photos amongst friends, “Google drive” if you need to share work documents and “iCloud” for those with Apple products. They all offer free introductory storage sizes and you can then trial it and see how it effects your internet bill and if you like it. My advice would keep to backing up your computer onto an external hard drive not worry too much about buying any storage in the cloud just yet, wait a few years until the NBN is up and running and see if these companies refine their cloud products a little further to make it a bit more user friendly before jumping in.
As always if you’d like to talk about it or need some help you can give me a call on 1300 682 817 or email me on Nathan@hometechassist.com.au