Way back in 2011 I wrote an article about Ubuntu One’s cloud space and the uses I had for it. At the time it was a relatively new thing, and although I was excited about the idea of the cloud and what it had in store for everyone, it’s potential was never fully reached at the time and I only used the service for a number of things. This was due in part to Ubuntu One not being as flexible as other cloud services. Today however, things have changed and cloud services are a whole new breed.
Before we let you know why using cloud services should be part of your everyday life, perhaps an explanation is needed on exactly what a cloud service such as Google Drive is. Basically, you should think of it as a storage place, similar to that of your hard-drive that is built into your PC. Your files are sent up to a server which is run by a company such as Google, where your work and files are safely stored, and can be accessed anywhere there is an internet connection.
This access to your files allows you to do various things with them, such as upload, download, edit and delete. Some services allow files and folders to be automatically synced on your PC or other device, while others allow you to drag and drop files into a dedicated folder that connects to your cloud account. It’s all very simple, and computers such as the new Google Chromebooks solely run using a cloud service. That’s how powerful the internet is, and what you can now do with it.
For many, there are a lot of options to choose from, and there may not be enough reasons to use them. Well, once you start using them, you’ll realise just how handy cloud services are and how you really can’t live without them. Here then, are the services that I use in my day to day use, and how I use them.
This is my main cloud service, and the service I use to do all my donkey work. Google Drive along with Google Documents is a powerful combination that allows you to store everything you need, and access it exactly when you need it.
All my writings are held on Google Drive, and although the service gives to 15GB of storage space, all files created within Google’s own applications (such as Documents, Presentations, Spreadsheets etc) do not eat into that space. So this leaves 15GB to play with for other things.
I have various .PDF files stored on Google Drive, such as manuals, timetables, menus etc. I have various Word documents which I have used in the past, plus a couple of photographs, some music and even a video file.
To access Google Drive simply click on my Google Drive Bookmark, and it takes me to where I can create or edit files. If there’s a file I have downloaded to my computer that I want to save to Google Drive, I simply drag it into the Google Drive Folder on my laptop where it is automatically saved to Google Drive.
I have my Android mobile phone tied to my Dropbox account. The account is capable of storing 50GB of data, and to make the most of this, every time I take a photograph with my mobile phone, the image is uploaded up to my Dropbox cloud account.
Dropbox can, just like Google Drive, be installed onto your PC so that there are folders which sync to the cloud. I have just stayed with Google Drive for this, and use Dropbox solely for mobile devices. When I access Dropbox from a PC, it’s via the Dropbox website. This site gives access to the files quickly and easily, and keeping two separate cloud accounts means I can manage my data with ease, knowing what’s where, and where to place things.
Something that I use now and again is Amazon MP3. This is used on my mobile devices, and means I can access all the albums I have ever bought on Amazon and stream them to my device.
Unlike the Google and Dropbox options, there is not much else you can do with this account, other than upload more of your own music to the web. It is however useful, and an option if you want to upload music to the cloud (and of course, Google has it’s own cloud service for uploading music should you ever buy music off them).
Other Cloud Services
As well as the three that have been mentioned, there are cloud services from many other companies, including Microsoft, Box, Justcloud, iCloud, Ubuntu One and the list goes on and on as other companies get in on the cloud services act.
There are options there for light users and heavy users, and prices differ drastically depending on your need. But don’t be fooled by price, as there are some great free options, including Google Drive which gives 15GB of space and is my number one recommendation for a cloud service.
Just think about how many times you use your mobile phone or tablet these days. Think also how often you use your PC, and just how often you use the internet. Think how many times you have taken photos with your mobile phone… It’s almost guaranteed that you use your PC differently now to when it was used before the advent of ultra-powerful smart-phones and tablets.
It’s so easy to have all your files with you at all times, no matter what device you have with you. Should I wish to check out the latest .PDF booklet I have on HTML code, I can simply jump on any device I own (laptop, iPad, Samsung Galaxy S3) and open that booklet and read it. If I forget any of my devices, it doesn’t matter, because I can get the file I need from a borrowed device that has a web-browser on it! It really is that simple, and most of all that reliable.
There shall never be a time when I can’t get a file that I require because it’s there on the cloud waiting for me, and you should be the same. Whether you enjoy reading, writing, creating online art, storing photographs, it doesn’t matter because with cloud storage it’s only a click away!
If you enjoyed this article, please read through my blog. The last few updates have been particularly tech-oriented and aimed at new and old PC users alike.