What is the Cloud and how do I use it?

We’ve had several people ask us recently about the Cloud.  They’re not sure if they should use it, and they are especially not sure if they should trust it!

I’m here to say “YES!”, you can use it and you can trust it. But let’s go back a step or two.

What is the Cloud?

The term “cloud” is used to describe the nebulous place in the ether where you can store documents, files, movies, spreadsheets, and more. Essentially, it is online storage similar to an external hard drive, or a thumb drive. You use it in the exact same way: to store your files in a secure location. But don’t take my word for it.  Here’s a great description of the Cloud from PC Magazine:

“In the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. The cloud is just a metaphor for the Internet. It goes back to the days of flowcharts and presentations that would represent the gigantic server-farm infrastructure of the Internet as nothing but a puffy, white cumulus cloud, accepting connections and doling out information as it floats.”

Here’s my little picture of how it works:

The Cloud
The Cloud on a post-it

How do I use the Cloud?

Use the Cloud the same way you would any storage device. Configure your account so that the documents you choose are uploaded, and so that any time you make changes to those documents, those changes are uploaded as well.  I have configured my account to upload photos I take on my smartphone up to my Dropbox account.

How much will it cost?

Many providers have a small “starter” program for free.  You can expect to store up to a gig or two for free. For many of us, though, that would cover maybe a few months of photos! Bigger plans are available based on the amount of data you want to store. For example, my Dropbox account is ten dollars a month for one terabyte. One terabyte is way more than I need, but it’s their smallest plan so that’s what I use.

Who do you use for Cloud storage?

I have used Dropbox for ten years, at least, and really like it.  Other providers include Amazon, iCloud, Google Drive.  Dropbox, and other providers, let you access your stored data from anywhere.  I can open a file on my phone when I’m out of town, or on my tablet.  I’ve even accessed and printed a document at a public library.  Talk about convenient!

Let us know if you need help setting up a Cloud account, especially if you want to make sure it uploads changes to any document in near real time.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial  (Any links to products or services in this post may be affiliate links. If they are, we may receive a small commission when you click on it. Rest assured, your price will be the same!)

iCloud – Valued Apple Feature or not?

iCloud

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about Apple’s iCloud recently.  iCloud is something many of us have been using for years.  But are you sure how to best take advantage of it?

If you have multiple devices – an iPhone, iPad, and iMac, for example, you can listen to your music whether you’re at home, a coffee shop, in your car, or on a trip.

If you don’t have an Apple computer, you can still access some of the iCloud features from your Windows computer.  Head over to www.iCloud.com and sign in with your user ID and password.  Some of the features available at the website include Mail, Contacts, Calendar, and Photos.  Access to your music is not available here.

20160621 iCloud image

The “Find My iPhone” feature is available at the iCloud website.  Take a minute now to sign in.  Navigate around the site briefly, but especially take a look at the “Find my iPhone” feature so that if you do lose your phone, you’ll know how to use it.  (Make sure any folks in your family who are challenged in the area of knowing where their possessions are, have this feature turned on!)

When you sign in to the iCloud, your user ID is probably your email.   If you’ve forgotten your password,         it’s relatively easy to reset it.  Remember that the password for your iCloud account is different from the security passcode you may have set up to access your iPhone or your iPad.  If you have set them up to be the same, please change one of them now!

Another feature I’ve just learned about on the iCloud is the ability to share photos with other people.  When you click on the “Photos” icon, your pictures appear.  At the bottom of the screen there are three buttons – Photos, Share, and Albums.  Your Photos shows all the pictures you’ve taken from a given point in time organized by date.  Albums arrange your photos by different categories like Selfies, Panoramas, Videos, and Screenshots.

To share photos, click on “New Shared Album”.  Give it a title, and select who to share it with by entering their emails.  Once the structure is set up, you can then add photos to the album.

If you need help setting up your iCloud properly, check out Apple’s Help pages or the Genius Bar at the Apple store.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

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