How I Learned to Love the Cloud
I was in the middle of my husband’s campaign for Supervisor in San Francisco and had assumed command of all the fund raising and communications. I kept meticulous records and prided myself on the database I had organized.
Then one day, in the middle of July, my computer simply wouldn’t turn on. As I recall, it made a sad face and died.
All of the information that I had created, compiled and curated over the course of seven months was gone. Poof! Goodbye. See ya later.
I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown.
In all my years of computing, my hard drive never had crashed before. I blindly believed that this would never happen to me.
I practiced unsafe computing, which is like playing Russian Roulette. If you do it enough, sooner or later, you’re going to take a bullet.
Since then, I’ve learned my lesson. Most businesses back up their computers every day, but that sounded expensive, complicated and time-consuming to me. I was not a business and reserved my computer for personal use…until the campaign.
“Back up to the cloud,” my computer consultant advised. That scared me. Where’s the cloud and who has access to it?
Soon enough, I was forced to find out and it turned out to be pretty easy.
The DropBox Cloud
There’s this thing called DropBox, which is like having a hard drive in the sky. My daughter, who was 13 at the time, was using it so I figured she could teach me.
Here’s what I learned.
You go to DropBox.com.
Sign up for free.
Download the software onto your computer.
Save your documents on your hard drive as usual.
Make a back-up copy of your files by saving to the DropBox icon on your desktop screen.
Dropbox gives you 2.5 Gigabytes (GB) of storage for free. This gives me plenty of storage capacity because I mostly create text documents and keep a small photo collection on my computer.
If you need to back up multimedia files such as video, songs or extensive photo libraries, plan on paying for extra storage. One hundred more Gigabytes will cost you $8.25 per month. Pricing plans are available for 200 GBs and 500 GBs as well.
There are many other options besides Drop Box including Apple’s iCloud.
Google’s Real Estate Cloud
I also learned about Google Docs. I may be the last one to know about Google Docs, but just in case I’m not, here’s some information to get you started.
If you have a Gmail address, sign in.
If you don’t have a Gmail address, go to Gmail.com and sign up for a free email address. Click on the red button that says “Create a New Account” in the top, right-hand corner of your screen.
This takes you to the Gmail dashboard where you will see a menu at the top of the screen.
Click on “Drive,” which will take you to the “Drive” home page.
On the left side of the screen is a red button that says “Create.”
Click on “Create” and choose Document, Presentation, Spreadsheet, Form or Drawing, depending on your needs.
All of the Google Doc platforms mimic Microsoft Office software. Google automatically saves up to 15 Gigabytes of documents for free (12.5 more GBs than Drop Box!) More GBs are available for a price, of course.
You can access your Google Docs on any computer through your Google account, which you established when you created your Gmail address.
Google Docs gives you the ability to search your documents and share them with other people through their email addresses. And it syncs any changes across multiple devices. These are great features, especially if you work collaboratively.
The Big G’s World Domination
As you get comfortable with Google and its infinite number of applications, you’ll soon discover that it’s taking over the world. Seriously. But that’s a subject for another blog.
And my old hard drive? It took a week, but my neighborhood tech miraculously recovered all of my files.
They now rest safely in the cloud where the NSA can look at them at any time.