As we discussed last time, several companies are offering free storage in the cloud of up to five gigabytes and this is very useful for contacts and photos. It can also be extremely useful for business customers, especially those in a start-up situation. Let’s take a closer look at what the capabilities are and how to set it up.
How much is a gigabyte?
So what exactly is on offer here, how big is a gigabyte? The smallest unit of storage on computers is a byte. A kilobyte is one thousand bytes, a megabyte is one million bytes and a gigabyte is one thousand megabytes. Your average Word document of six to seven pages without embedded graphics or photographs is about 100 kilobytes (1,000 bytes). So we can fit roughly 50,000 documents in our cloud storage, which is an awful lot of documents! In reality, some of our documents will be larger but even so, we can write a lot of letters and create a lot of spreadsheets and store them securely in the cloud, all for free!
Let’s take a closer look at one of the most popular offerings. Formerly known as Google Docs, the Google Cloud Drive http://drive.google.com/ offers 5GB of storage for free and this is linked to your Gmail account. It’s very easy to setup. Simply navigate to the Drive link (at the top of the page when you search or access your email on gmail.com) or use the URL above. You can create as many folders as you like to organise your documents. You can also download the free Google Drive application, which works on any device including a PC, Mac or Smartphone. Download and install the application and sign in using your Google ID and password. Using this application, your Google Drive will synchronise with a folder on your computer. To upload documents to the cloud, simply save them or drag and drop into that folder, it’s simple! These documents will also be available to you offline so if the Internet is not available, you can still access them and they’ll copy back up to the Cloud storage when you are re-connected.
All of your documents are now available to you from any location. All you need is a device connected to the Internet! You can also preview popular document formats like Word and Excel directly in the browser so you don’t need Microsoft Office. You can even convert them to Google’s Spreadsheet format and edit if you need to. You can also add in documents of any kind, including photographs. Remember that a high-resolution photo will be two to four megabytes so a few thousand photos will use up all the 5GB of storage. If you really like the service and need more space, you can purchase additional storage – 25GB costs less than €2 per month and 100GB costs approx. €4 per month.
Eamon is a Senior IT Professional with PaqIT, an IT Service Provider with offices in Limerick and Galway www.paqit.com.