Unclouding the digital cloud


I keep hearing about storing my photos “in the cloud,” or a group working on a project which they store “in the cloud.” What about that movie I downloaded? Where is it? Are there strings of data hanging around? Are my photos dancing around in space? Or is everything just floating around in the nebula – like in Star Trek?

No. Actually it means that you are just saving your information on someone else’s hard drive. For example, Google or Dropbox.  Some of these companies offer this service free, some charge more if you want more space or more features and some just charge. You have to choose.

Some of the more well-known sites are Google Drive, Microsoft One Drive, Dropbox, Box and Amazon Cloud drive. Most of them are fairly similar although some have a few more features. Do you have too much to store for free in one place but you don’t want to pay? You can have several accounts and store in different places.  So you might save your photos in the Amazon Cloud drive, your Excel documents in Box and your Word documents in Dropbox… and as I mentioned there are several other places.

My co-worker shared this little ditty for saving things: “In my digital archiving class, they taught us the 3, 2, 1 rule of backing up your data. Make sure you have at least 3 copies of whatever you’re trying to preserve, like your parent’s wedding photo. Two should be stored in different ways (ex: one on a backup CD-R or a thumb drive and one copy offsite (in the cloud) in case of fire/water/earthquake). There was a young video game company that had almost finished developing their new game  Their offices flooded & they lost practically everything since they hadn’t been backing up their files regularly. It delayed the release of the game by 2-3 years”.

Using this advice, store photos on your phone or on a thumb drive and then as a third precaution, download them to Google Photos or a another cloud service.  I downloaded the app to my iPhone, and then downloaded all my photos from my phone to this service (in the Cloud).  Now I have them saved and can look at them from my phone, but I can also look at them wherever I can connect to the Internet on any device.  I just sign in and there they are, even the new ones I just took.  Once the app is downloaded it will continue to save your photos without even having to tell it.

One last new thing!

Avery Labels now has a template for Google!  You can save your addresses to a Google application called “Google Sheets” (similar to excel) and run the labels straight from there. Imagine going to your family reunion, a funeral, or a wedding and bringing your address list up on your laptop or even your Aunt’s laptop!  You can then get accurate addresses for your family and make the changes in your google account on whatever or whoever’s device you use.  Google will save it into your Google Drive.  Then when Christmas rolls around – your addresses would be updated and could be run straight from your device to your wireless printer.  The miracles of technology!!

~Retired Reference Librarian, Sharon Mikesell