Cloud computing is a name given to a new way in which we can share files over the internet. There are many ‘Cloud Computing’ services available, Dropbox, Windows Live SkyDrive, Apple iCloud to name but a few.
These services enable you to upload files/documents/photos to their servers and instantly share them with anyone you choose.
Cloud computing is very simple to use for anybody with an internet connection. You simply sign up with your preferred service (many of which are free) and upload the files to user created folders, much the same as you would have on your computer. Some of the processes can be automated too, so that certain files are automatically backed up/saved to your cloud service. It can be a useful back-up for important files when used in this way, although some of the free services do have limits on the amount of data stored.
As a virtual assistant, it makes my job a whole lot easier. As soon as I have finished working on something, I can upload it to my ‘cloud’ and my client can access it in an instant. And it’s an easy way for my clients to get files and documents to me for me to work on.
The advantages over sending and receiving files by email, is that you can organise them into folders, so if you do send and receive files a lot, it is easier to keep track of things. And, they are always accessible, when your email, or even your computer, is unavailable. Folders can also be password protected or you have the option to share them, so you can allow only certain people to access individual files and folders or keep everything private.
Most ‘clouds’ can be accessed from any computer, as long as you have your log-in details, so even if you don’t have access to your email, you can view and share files. You can view, and sometimes edit, the files online or download them to your chosen computer.
Windows SkyDrive even lets you view and edit files when you don’t have the original software installed thanks to ‘web apps’. So, if you are using a PC that doesn’t have MS Office installed but you want to work on a Word document. You can log on to SkyDrive, open the Word document directly within SkyDrive and edit away!
The majority of cloud services can also be accessed by smartphones, making them even more accessible ‘on the go’.
On a personal level, it’s also a great way to share photos, for example, with family members who may not live close by. How would you use your cloud?
Lynda Swindells – Virtual Assistant & Networking Mummies Dorset Branch leader