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The Cloud, Day 29: Five Things I Like Most About the Cloud

Here is my list of the five biggest benefits I discovered about using cloud software and services.

Yesterday I listed the five biggest issues or concerns I had with relying on the cloud. Now, I’m going to flip that around and talk about the five biggest benefits or advantages I discovered while working in the cloud.

1. It’s There When You Need It

This is essentially the polar opposite from yesterday’s first point. While it is a problem that you might not be able to reach the cloud on occasion, the flip side is that when you rely on cloud-based applications, and you store your data in the cloud you’re not tied to any specific device.

There have been countless times over the years that I’ve been traveling, or away from my office and I wanted information that only existed on my PC sitting under my desk. Using the cloud means that I can access my programs and information from virtually any Web-connected device. It also means I can get back to work without missing a beat in the event that my primary PC has a meltdown.

2. Staying In Sync

This is sort of an extension of the first point. Having profiles, software configuration choices, and data automatically sync between various devices is a step beyond just being able to access them, though.

When I take a picture it is available from any of my devices in a matter of moments. Even when I take a picture with my point and shoot, the Eye-Fi SD memory card syncs the pictures with my iPad, and my iPad uses Apple’s Photo Stream to sync the pictures with my iPhone and PC.

When I add an event to my calendar on my iPhone, or create a new contact on my PC, that information is automatically synced to all platforms so I have access to the same information no matter where I am or what device I have available.

3. Safe and Sound

Like the first point here, this one is actually the opposite of one of my complaints from Day 28. Coincidentally, it’s the opposite of yesterday’s third point.

All of my photos are digital. All of my music is digital. All of my work is digital. When I store it all locally on my PC, or an external hard drive in my home office, I run the risk that it could all be wiped out in a single catastrophe. That is not an acceptable risk.

By storing my music, pictures, and other data in the cloud, I get much better protection than what I can provide myself. Most cloud-based services have redundant servers spread across redundant, geographically disperse data centers. With my data in the cloud, I can be more or less assured that no single event can wipe it all out.

That said, my point from Day 28 still stands, and I will also keep a local copy just in case. I feel like I the data is too important, and it’s better if I hedge my bets either way.

4. IT Department Included

One big benefit I get by using cloud software and services is that it’s somebody else’s job to make sure everything is kept up to date and running smoothly. It enables me to focus on using the tools rather than maintaining them.

With local software I have to purchase upgrades, or download updates, and apply them myself. With cloud services, though, the provider can update the software and add features on the server end, and they just magically appear for everyone to use.

When there are problems, they’re the cloud vendor’s problems to troubleshoot instead of mine. If the hard drive reaches capacity, or the server is maxed out, it’s up to the cloud vendor to expand or upgrade the hardware.

5. Virtually Endless

Mobile devices have limited storage. Most smartphones only have about 16GB of storage, and tablets generally max out around 64GB. Even notebooks or ultrabooks with 500GB or 750GB drives are still finite.

Using the cloud to store data means that I have access to as many gigabytes of data as I need regardless of the limited capacity of the device I’m using. If I start to run out of space, I can buy more. More importantly, I can buy more on the fly and have it available immediately instead of having to add or replace a physical drive.

Come back tomorrow so we can put a nail in the coffin of this series. I will wrap it all up and tie it with a bow by recapping my experience and providing some final thoughts about using cloud software and services.

Read the Last "30 Days" series: 30 Days With Windows Phone 7

Day 28: My Five Biggest Cloud Complaints

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