With the establishment of the Internet as a giant storage place, metaphorically referred to as The Cloud, local backups, cross-device syncing, and local data storage is becoming more and more redundant. In fact, the average user already stores a bulk of personal data online. Soon, even the data hoarders may find sufficient space in the digital cloud to say goodbye to terabyte-sized hard drives and complicated backup and sync procedures.
Are you ready to step into The Cloud? In this article I will show you how you can become largely independent of local data storage and store your data in the cloud. I will provide an overview of how the Internet can help you sync information across different software, platforms and devices to have your data accessible anytime, anywhere by you or by anyone you choose.
Cloud Messaging: Email
Whether you maintain a webmail account like Yahoo, Hotmail, or GMail or send and receive email via a desktop client, your messages inevitably pass through The Cloud and are stored on Internet servers, at least temporarily. The advantage of a webmail account that permanently stores your mails online, is that you cannot lose important messages and data. Some people even scan important documents and mail them to their own webmail account in order to have permanent access to them. It’s a thought worth tossing around.
Consider Google Mail for a permanent webmail account. Apart from over 7GB of free storage, it offers incredible features that will let you experience email in a whole new light.
MakeUseOf has covered GMail extensively. Here is a small selection:
- The Ultimate Guide To Gmail [PDF]
- How To Search Emails In Gmail Efficiently
- How To Quickly Find Messages With Attachments In Gmail
- 3 Things Pro Gmail Users Have Set Up In Their Accounts
- 4 Simple Steps To Achieving & Maintaining Inbox Zero In Gmail
- 3 Great Examples of Using Gmail Filters for Productivity
Online File Storage: Dropbox
At first sight, Dropbox is a harmless little folder that sits on your desktop and holds your files. What hides behind it however, is a nifty little sync tool that works in the background and never hassles you. Not only are files in your Dropbox automatically encrypted and synced to your online Dropbox account, you also have access to 30 days of undo history, you can share Dropbox subfolders with your friends, access your files online, or sync them to as many devices as you like. 2GB of this cloud storage madness is totally free.
Care to learn more about Dropbox? Check out these articles:
- The First Unofficial Guide To Dropbox
- 3 Unique & Creative Uses For Dropbox Accounts
- How To Easily Synchronize Folders Outside Dropbox Using Symlinks
Brain Online: Evernote
Evernote is something like your online pinboard or fridge for useful bits and pieces of information, some even call it their external brain. Whether it’s business cards, recipes, ideas, pictures, or invitations, on Evernote you can store any piece of information you want to remember. Evernote will index text, even from scanned documents or pictures and whenever you need the information, you can easily search and access your data collection wherever you are.
Let us get you started on Evernote:
- 7 Ways To Make Use Of Evernote
- 6 Ways To Add Your Information To Evernote
- Evernote – The Killer App For The Android Mobile Phone
Passwords Anywhere: LastPass
What is the greatest annoyance when you quickly want to check your email on a friend’s computer or in an Internet café? After years of letting your browser store your password, you actually forget it! The same fate awaits those who reinstall their computer or set up a new device.
LastPass is a long term solution because it encrypts and stores your passwords online. It also offers extensions for all major browsers and mobile devices, allowing you to sync passwords across multiple browsers and operating systems and all your gadgets. In addition, LastPass provides a secure password generator, which creates nearly uncrackable passwords.
Bookmarks Sync: Xmarks
When we talk about The Cloud, we’re automatically talking about browsers and bookmarks. Browsers are our digital window into The Net and being the most important tool for accessing the Internet, many people are almost emotionally attached to their browser. While many browsers now offer syncing of personal data, what they all lack is cross-browser-syncing of bookmarks. What good are your bookmarks if you cannot access them anywhere?
Note that Xmarks will no longer sync passwords. The company has acquired LastPass and is thus deprecating the password sync feature in Xmarks.
Cloud Entertainment: Amazon Cloud Drive & Player
Right now, Amazon Cloud Drive is nothing but yet another online storage space. However, with the introduction of its Cloud Player, it provides a glimpse into the future of digital entertainment. Soon, we will store our media files locally, they will all be located in the cloud and accessible through apps on our digital devices. You can text the future now by using the 5GB free space on Amazon Cloud Drive for your music (US only).
Do you now see how laptops in the future will be based on a browser rather than an operating system? If you’re all ears about The Cloud now, you might like these articles:
- How Does Cloud Computing Work?
- Build Yourself A Virtual Cloud To Fall Back On
- Do You Live In The Cloud? [MakeUseOf Poll]
Needless to say, an article like this can only scratch the surface and show the biggest and best cloud tools to store data in the cloud. There are many, many more and I’m sure you know one or the other. So are you floating freely in The Cloud already or is something holding you back? Please share your opinions in the comments!
Image credits: Lightspring