Many years ago, our desktop computer crashed. Despite our best efforts to salvage anything from it, we lost everything on it. That included not only the computer’s hardware and software but also all of our music, pictures, videos, and other files. Very little of it had been backed up. Honestly, I had just never taken the time to do it.
Now this all happened long before cloud storage was popular. I mean–it was a thing; it existed, but few people understood or used it. Most people back then backed things up on an external hard drives or portable storage like flash drives or CDs. Since we were now in the market to buy a new computer, I had no desire to also buy an external hard drive or portable storage. I realize that stuff is pretty cheap now, but again, this happened long ago when even a tiny flash drive (we’re talking 32 mb here) was $20 or more. One certainly wouldn’t hold much, and it would cost me a fortune to buy enough to do the job. PLUS, none of those backups would be automatic. I’d periodically have to overwrite files again and again to stay up to date.
This got me searching for other alternatives. I had heard of cloud drives, but I didn’t understand them, so I did some homework. In case you’re not sure, let’s talk first about what a cloud drive is and how it works.
The Basics of Cloud Storage
Cloud drives (or cloud storage) allow you to automatically backup your files online. While you can of course still save copies right on your computer or other device, they’ll automatically be backed up for you in online storage. Every time you open a Word document, edit and save it, that new, updated version will also be saved “in the cloud.” Many software companies also offer online versions of their software (like Office 365 and Google Docs, for example), but that’s a whole different topic we won’t delve into today.
Depending on which cloud storage you choose, prices will vary. Some offer a small amount of storage for free while others have monthly fees based on your needs. As an already-avid Google user, I chose Google Drive, so we’ll use that one as an example. If you don’t need to store much, you can store up to 15 GB for free. Since I use Google Drive to backup all of my pictures in addition to files, I chose to upgrade to 100 GB. I have the option of paying $1.99 (plus tax) monthly or $19.99 (plus tax) annually. Currently, I use about 75 GB of storage, so I still have plenty room.
With Google Drive, I can access my documents stored locally on my computer, via a browser online, or via an app on my phone or tablet. Let’s talk about how all of that works next.
How Does it Work?
When you sign up, you’ll need to first login. I would recommend getting all of the setup done on a computer rather than a mobile device. Just head over to Drive.Google.com to get started. If you already have a Google account (for Gmail or YouTube, for example), you can use that same login. If you don’t, you’ll need to set one up. This account is how you’ll access your storage across all your devices.
Once your account is setup online, you’ll next download and install the Backup and Sync program for your computer. You should see a link for it in the bottom left corner of your screen on the Google Drive website. Once this is installed, it will create a new folder in your File Explorer called Google Drive.
Simply move any files you want backed up from their current location on your computer to your Google Drive folder. *Note: do not simply copy them to the Google Drive folder; you want to move them completely. When you need to access them later, navigate to your Google Drive folder and open them from there. Any time you make changes and save them on your computer, then, those changes will automatically be backed up to your cloud storage.
Once you have everything setup on your computer, you’ll next want to install and setup Google Drive on any of your mobile devices. If your smartphone or tablet are Androids, Google Drive will already be installed. If you have an iPhone or iPad, you’ll need to download the app from the store.
Open the app on your mobile device, and sign in using the same credentials you used to setup your account online. Depending on how many items you have in your Google Drive folder, the initial sync may take a while. When the sync is complete, you’ll see everything you have in your Google Drive folder on your computer right in the app on your mobile device. It’s super handy when you’re out and about and need to access a file.
What’s the Benefit of Cloud Storage?
You remember earlier when I said our computer crashed and we lost everything? That right there is the benefit of cloud storage. If right now, my computer went up in smoke, I would have lost absolutely nothing (except the computer of course). I simply would get a new computer, download the Google Drive backup and sync program like I did when I first set it up, and when the sync was complete, everything would be there–just as I left it.
Since I work with most of my clients remotely, I also don’t need to bring my laptop everywhere I go. Instead, I just have my tablet (and phone of course) with me. If I need to pull something up for them, I just open the Google Drive app and open the file. It’s that simple.
Need help getting started? I’d be happy to help you with the install and setup. Contact me today for more information.