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    So My Three-Year Old Computer Died. Cloud to the Rescue


      My laptop is my workstation, my play station, my news source. You get the idea. Rarely do I leave my apartment without it slung over my shoulder. It gets beaten up. So I change computers every three years or so.

      But I got a MacBook Pro recently (my second go around with Apple computers) and held on to my PC. I started to use my Mac more and the now 3 1/2 year old PC, apparently experiencing abandonment issues, decided to quit on me.

      I stopped backing up my laptop years ago but I didn’t panic. Why? Because most of my work, and photographs and play things were online. After more than three years, I was using less than a third of my hard drive space. I started the practice of using cloud based services around four years ago when I left the cozy law firm confines to start an entrepreneurial venture.

      Here’s a breakdown:


      I had the full Microsoft package including Exchange, but decided to go with Google Apps for Business which allowed me to use my domain name within the fantastic Gmail interface. I use the Calendar for appointments. Google has made many improvements over the years to this interface making it very user friendly with just about all of the functionality you want from an email provider — for both personal and business use.

      Google Docs

      I also use Google Apps for creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations. They’ve stripped out the bloated features from comparable Microsoft products while keeping many of the primary functionalities and adding a few. The vast majority of my documents are created and stored here. I sprung for the $50/year upgrade for additional storage and personalized customer service.


      For the few documents that I did have on my hard drive — like PDFs, a few that required the more advanced features of Word and Excel and a stray PowerPoint or two, I had a Dropbox folder which synced those items to the cloud. The free 2GB storage was sufficient


      For just about everything else, I used Evernote — to compile blog post (like this post), create drafts of presentations, maintain a daily diary of sorts, long-term to-do lists, and so much more. It has significantly sped up my conversion to paperless. I did download the desktop application, with the information which is immediately saved as I type, synced to my iphone and the web.


      I love to snap pictures as I roam about the streets or when I travel and have taken thousands of shots over the past few years. They come in handy for blog posts! iPhones have turned us all into amateur photographers. The images are stored on my iPhone and selectively uploaded to Flickr. I considered Picasa, but since Google already houses so much of my information, I chose Flickr.


      I uploaded my entire iTunes library of over 3,000 tunes to Music Beta by Google. I’m not crazy about the application but I view it as safe storage alternative. I’m hoping that the frustratingly long overdue iCloud will provide a more intuitive and convenient option. My library of music is also stored on an old, but sturdy iPod. Though I’m happy to still have access to my music collection, Spotify and Pandora which I use more frequently, would have eased the blow had I lost it.

      I still revert to the bad habit of storing a few things on my hard drive and lost a few documents, but the fact that I can’t recall exactly what those were suggests to me that they weren’t terribly important and would have been part of a hard drive spring cleaning anyway.

      I’m forever looking for better and more secure ways to store my information online so that my laptop is clean and fast, never fearing a broken computer or lost information.

      What do you use for your cloud storage?

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