Remember crying when you lost the file you’d been working on for days and days because your computer’s hard disk crashed?
Or when you lost all the photos of your child’s birthday party or your wonderful holiday in Europe after your laptop got stolen? I have – and I am supposed to know better! It just so happens that on one night of slackness you are just too tired and don’t back up your files on to the external hard disk or a flash disk. And the next day your hard disk crashes. You can blame it on Murphy’s Law, but follow my advice and do not become a statistic ever again:
A laptop is stolen every 53 seconds-CNN
All hard drives will crash during their lifetime-FOX
Every year 43% of computer users lose their music, documents and photos and more-PC WORLD
More than 1 in 10 laptops will be stolen in their lifetime-BBC
The good news is that data backup is now getting easier to do and you actually do not have to worry about remembering to do it. If you are connected to the internet, it is automatic, and the best part is you can then access your files anywhere on your smartphone or tablet or cybercafe. It also works in reverse; if you take pictures on your phone or tablet, they get transferred automatically to your computer.
The best storage for personal data
For smaller storage requirements, backing up online is virtually free as many providers are offering up to 5GB of storage space at no cost.
Providers I am using are: Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, GoogleDrive
Dropbox even gives you free additional space if you recommend a friend who also joins up. If you purchase a Samsung device, Dropbox also provides additional space free of charge. I believe Box also provides free space if you purchase LG and other devices.
I am sure there will be many more providers and special offers as time goes on – just Google “free online storage” and you will get the latest news about new providers and latest offers for online storage.
So, instead of dumping everything in the traditional My Documents, My Pictures, et al folders (if you are using Windows), have separate folders for different activities (e.g. business, personal, photos and videos etc.), each stored in one of the above online storage providers’ folders.
Storage options for Corporates
For Corporates with large storage requirements, there are specialist companies (JustCloud, Live Drive, Sugar Sync, Drive HQ, Mozy as well as DropBox and Box) who provide various services at competitive pricing.
However, before selecting a provider, check what services are being offered and whether they are relevant to you, e.g. online storage or online backup, space requirements, access modes, compatibility and costs.
How it works
It is quite simple. You just need to download the relevant app (software application) on your tablet, phone and computer after registering with the providers. The folders are created automatically on your computer. You then just transfer the folders you want to be backed up under the particular provider’s folder.
Every time you save a file under the folder, an automatic sync is started and the file will be uploaded on the “cloud” (computer data storage location of the provider). If you have your internet connection on at all times, it will be immediate. If you connect to the internet infrequently, it will sync the next time you go online.
On your phone or tablet, an icon will appear once the app is downloaded. Once you click on the icon, all your backed up files, photos etc. will appear. You can then use other software (such as Adobe, Polaris Office etc) to read the contents. Your photos will be visible immediately.
You can also access your files on the website of the providers you have registered with.
Just a word of caution- if you are paying for internet data based on usage, you may notice an increase in your data bundle bills.
Sharing and collaboration becomes easier
When you need to share a file with say a team member who is collaborating on a project, this is easily done- by sending a link via email or chat lines (e.g. WhatsApp etc). All changes made will be saved on that file. Hence, there’s no need for sending files back and forth on emails and trying to remember which one is the most up-to date.
So, this Sunday get your online storage software downloaded and re-organise your folders on your computer; trust me, it won’t take long.
Follow these steps and you won’t end up crying (at least not so loudly) the next time your hard disk crashes or your laptop gets stolen!
Technology consultant Richard Bracchi has recently advised use of these cloud services as one of the five technological tools that can help entrepreneurs increase their company’s efficiency while saving money.
-Murtaza Saeed, Lead Consultant NEXT STEP CONSULTING