Life in the Cloud

A little over a year ago I was fortunate to win a Dell Chromebook (this one in fact) with it came 100 GB storage on Google’s cloud service – Drive. I already had the ‘free’ 15 GB which gave me a total of 115 GB of cloud storage.

I have used various cloud storage systems both personally and professionally and while I find Dropbox useful in my work environment (many clients and project partners use it to share large files across multiple individuals). What I like for my personal files is the ease in which I can share, access and use them via Google Drive.

The integration with the Chromebook is, obviously, a big part of that. The limited on board space of the machine (16 GB plus any SD card I might add) certainly means I am more inclined to use the cloud system. The only down side to the Dell Chromebook is the need to be on a WiFi or Wired connection – no ability to add a SIM card. However, with a mobile phone I can easily tether the laptop and download what I need on the fly, then work on that document offline. The ease in which is updates once I am back connected to the internet is superb.

So when I am off playing our monthly D&D session I can make notes on a Google Doc, which will update when I return home. The only downside so far is that I can not edit a PDF in offline, they really need to fix that! A use the official D&D PDF character sheet which is great, the fill-able fields auto re-size the text to fit and I could upload an image of my character. The downside is I have to print off a hard copy to make notes on, which I then correct when back online.

With the size of the storage on Drive I have been able to back-up all our digital images, having them in one safe space means I can rest a little easier knowing that if a fatal error occurs on one of our drives (yes I have them on the PC storage drive and a back up external) they are still sitting safe in the cloud. This also means they are accessible anywhere, at least anywhere I can get an internet connection.

It goes without saying that I also have Gmail, which I now only view via Chrome browser, I no longer have the need to down load my emails or store them separately. Folders and rules within Gmail help me to manage my personal account and the ability to access them all from anywhere is so useful.

On work front I have been able to add the VMWare app which means I can log on to my work virtual machine and be able to take the lighter, longer lasting Chromebook to work events (as long as I have access to WiFi) – this has been very beneficial for many meetings and off site events. It means I am connected and virtually in the office. I have full access to my share drives, all the applications and email! Basically I am in the cloud for work as well – all with a very inexpensive, light weight yet powerful enough machine.

Google Drive is a super useful cloud storage option, coupled with the suite of programs Google offers for free (Docs, Slides, Sheets etc) provides a great integrated platform for most people’s home and indeed work needs. The additional 100 GB costs $1.99/month (full rates) and in my opinion is well worth the costs. Even the free 15 GB is able to hold a large amount of docs and emails.

I know that I was ‘lucky’ to get the Chromebook as a prize, but I believe it was only a matter of time for me to step into the world of Cloud, this was just the push (and tool) to allow it to be done almost seamlessly.

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