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Cloud Computing in your Daily Life

In this article, we will discuss about how cloud computing helps you in your daily life. Cloud computing means different thing for different people, it is like the famous story of blind men and the elephant. Each one looks at cloud computing in their own perspective which is based on their background and experience.

For some it may be OS virtualization, for some it is virtual storage and so on. This article is not about Enterprise Cloud computing which most of you are familiar. But it is about the some of the cloud computing services which can enrich your daily life, makes it easier. Recently Apple iCloud enabled one lady in US to retrieve her stolen iPhone. In the last one year iPhone’s “Find my phone” helped many to retrieve their lost iPhones and some could wipe out their sensitive data remotely before the thief had access to them.

Storage in the Cloud

Before cloud computing became widely used terminology there were few online storage services which offered limited services. Xdrive was one of the earliest popular online storage which was mapped to Windows explorer Storage as X drive. Xdrive was later taken over by AOL and by 2009 it went down with AOL. Now storage in the cloud is all the more important when we live in a time where most of the devices we carry around are mini computers. In this multi-platform environment it is easier if we could store and retrieve files if it is stored in a central place which supports all the platforms. There are many cloud storages services available today. I will discuss some of the popular ones.

1. Dropbox

The most popular cloud storage service is Dropbox which still rules the online storage World with ease of use and availability across most platforms, 2GB (to 18GB) free storage is available for all registered users. You can increase the size of to your Dropbox by sending invite to your friends. Dropbox allows you to upload files; photos etc and share it with your friends. It offers easy to use free client for almost all the platforms desktops, tablets and smart phones which are tightly integrated with the respective OS. If you have a bigger list of files stored in the Dropbox you will find the navigation very easy with the files arranged alphabetically and indexing is done in the right side of the screen. Just pressing any letter will fetch you the file names starting with that letter. You can open the html. Txt, pdf, jpg, etc directly and even play music and video within the client application.

With Dropbox your files are always in sync. If you are editing a file stored in Dropbox, midway you can switch over to your tablet and resume the work. Both will be synced automatically. But remember that for your files to be in sync across multiple platforms you need to store it in single directory. Many iOS applications have builtin support for Dropbox which is an added attraction to adopt Dropbox. From these application we directly import, export, or edit files in the Dropbox cloud.

2. SkyDrive

Microsoft gives 7GB (up to 25GB for old customers) of free storage for their online cloud storage called Skydrive. It is available in Windows as well as iOS platforms and is tightly integrated with Microsoft Office. You can access and edit MS docs on the go using online MS office web apps. SkyDrive iOS apps is available in India iTunes store unlike Google drive which is not available. Skydrive has an additional remote access facility to access files in your Windows PC remotely.

3. Pogo Plug

Pogo plug storage is famous for their NAS drive but recently they announced a cloud storage service for PCs too with 5GB limit. It has iOS client apps and works for all kinds of files, even media files can be shared. Pogo drive is free for only 30 days and then it cost you $29.9 for further use.

4. Google Drive

Google Drive gives 5GB of free storage and is accessible from PC, iOS devices and Android devices. It is tightly integrated with Google Docs so you can edit DOCs in the Google Drive. You can install the client app in desktop as well as smart phones and access all services of Google Drive.

The GUI is exactly liked Google Docs so it is easy to navigate. One biggest advantages of Google Drive is its ability open almost 30 types of file formats including media files. It automatically syncs the desktop file with cloud versions pretty fast.

5. Apple iCloud

iCloud integration is one of the most import feature of iOS 5. iCloud enable us to sync photos, documents, music, books, apps, etc. across all the iOS devices. You can also seamlessly sync mails, contacts, calendar etc across all devices. It gives 5GB free storage apart from free storage for your all songs and apps your purchased + storage for 1000 photos. You can buy additional storage for backup and “matching service” storing your songs which is not purchased through iTunes.

Photo Stream

Once you snap any Photos it will be stored in Photo stream which is in the cloud and immediately available in all iOS devices using Wi-Fi. Recently this came handy for Katy McCaffrey when she lost her iPhone in a cruise ship. The person (Nelson) who robbed her phone went on clicking photos of him and his friends which automatically uploaded in iCloud for Katy to see. She posted all this photos in Facebook with a caption “Adventures with my stolen iPhone” which went viral in the web and Katy got her iPhone back and Nelson and her girlfriend lost their job! Read more in the following link.

Documents in Cloud

“And now with iCloud, you can keep your work up to date across all your iOS devices. You don’t have to save your work or transfer any files. Your documents — with all your latest edits — automatically appear everywhere. iCloud is already built into Apple iOS apps like Keynote, Pages, and Numbers. It can also work with other iCloud-enabled apps. So you can do things like create a spreadsheet on your iPad and make edits to it on your iPhone. Or start sketching on your iPod touch and add the finishing touches on your iPad at home.” Apple says.

Find my Friends

This is a very interesting feature. With Find My Friends, you can choose to temporarily share your location with a group of people. It’s perfect for a weekend camping trip or a day at the amusement park. Share locations for a couple of hours — or a couple of weeks. When the trip is over, the sharing ends, too.

You can put on and off the feature of sharing your location with your friends at your wish. If you want little privacy just flip the switch to off. It allows parental control to override the settings.

6. Cubby

Cubby from LogMeIn a recent addition but very promising (http://www.logmein.com/) I love their LogMeIn apps where I can log into my home computers from office, if required….

Following table gives a fairly good comparison of features available for these cloud storage services.

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