Author Archives: Korilynn

Selecting A Cloud Storage Provider: Things Consumer Reports Won’t Tell You

Selecting A Cloud Storage Provider: Things Consumer Reports Won’t Tell You

There are hundreds of articles and guides telling a consumer what to look for when selecting a cloud storage provider, but they all say the same basic things: storage size, price, and application. Though these are all valid points, they miss the bigger picture: functionality. If a cloud storage provider has an exceptional price but poor functionality, it is not going to provide a personal or business user with the cloud computing capacity they need. Therefore, users in the market for cloud storage should consider some of these more in-depth shopping tips before committing to any provider.

Consider the Overhead Market

With hundreds of cloud storage providers entering the market each year, prices are low and competitive. Unfortunately, what users do not realize is that too many providers are not always such a great thing. In an overflowing market where competitors are still trying out pricing and overall business models, users are finding that selecting a cloud storage provider is hit-or-miss. Though a user might assume purchasing from an existing or established cloud storage provider is best, even established cloud computing services have failed in the past.

Considering the Multitude of Options

Currently there are two group types for cloud storage. The first type is an all-in-one online hard-drive like system that allows users to store, share and even update files directly from the cloud storage provider. A good example of this type of provider would be Google Drive/Docs. The second type of cloud storage is one that is solely for back up services. This type of cloud storage provider only allows the user to back up their files and data to an online system for data recovery. A user will have to download files to update them and then re-load them into the storage system.

To Download or Not to Download

Some cloud storage providers allow users to download a desktop application for easier access. Some common providers of these types of clouds storage services include Drop Box, Box and Mozy. With the downloaded application, the user can upload, open and collaborate on files in real-time without opening their web browser. In order for files to update, however, the user still needs an internet connection. If the user does not want to download an application to their computer they can still access their files from an internet browser. This will typically take longer, but files are automatically updated in real-time through the online service, which is best for large companies collaborating on the same project.

By KoriLynn Johnston

The Day Hard-Drives Become Obsolete

The Day Hard-Drives Become Obsolete

Not too long ago, the only way to store data for personal users was on the hard-drive of a computer. After that came the use of disks, thumb drives and external hard-drives. This was the way of life for most users for years – until cloud storage. Today, cloud storage is growing in popularity and more users are skipping the traditional methods of storage and opting for the cloud instead. Cloud storage is essentially just a fancy way to back up information, only this time it is left on a server rather than a physical device that can be lost or stolen.

Today, cloud storage has expanded to allow users the ability to collaborate and update documents within their cloud in real-time. Document storage can also be synchronized on multiple platforms and devices, which mean what a user saves on their PC can still be viewed on their iPad. For users who are unfamiliar with cloud storage or are unsure where to turn, there are two major providers in the cloud storage community that have proven effective and offer a variety of services to meet the needs of private and business consumers alike:

Google Drive

Once referred to as “Google Docs”, Google Drive is a downloadable application from Google that allows individuals to use the features of Google Docs on their desktop as well as through the online browser. Files can be stored directly through Google Drive and accessed on a variety of devices. The one drawback to Google Drive, however, is that iPhone and iPad users will have to use their browsers on their device rather than an application since Google has yet to create an app for iPhone. Android users on the other hand will have direct access to their drive by using a Google Drive app.

DropBox

DropBox has a creative system that allows users to save directly to their cloud storage directly from their computer. No more logging into an online site and uploading files – with DropBox users just save like they would to their hard-drive. The advantage of DropBox for businesses is that if multiple employees are collaborating on the same project, the project will be updated in real-time, which means multiple individuals can work on the same project without waiting for another person to finish their portion.

Cloud storage and cloud computing are becoming the new method for safe, reliable storage. With more cloud storage providers offering a variety of features and accessibility options, it is no wonder the hard-drive is becoming obsolete. 

KoriLynn Johnston

Cloud Storage Has Turned Into A Throw Down Between Providers

Cloud Storage Has Turned Into A Throw Down Between Providers

The cloud storage battleground has started to really pick up over the past few years. With more providers entering the marketplace and offering a variety of features (most of which are free), it is no wonder that cloud storage providers are conducting a throw down of their own against the competition.

Now with Google’s Drive making its way into the marketplace as well as Microsoft’s SkyDrive, the competition is only going to heat up further. Though there are the bigger cloud storage providers, they are not the only ones out there offering the cloud to private and business users, but for the first-time shopper, it is good to have a little comparison.

DropBox

DropBox is a mature and compelling cloud storage provider that offers users the ability to store, update and retrieve from a variety of platforms and devices. Unfortunately, when it comes to mass storage, DropBox is significantly more expensive than other providers. With DropBox, users can look forward to features that include:

  • Multiple platform
  • Free storage of up to 2GB
  • The ability to upgrade storage in increments of 50GB
  • An unlimited file size capability
  • Public folder features
  • Easy sharing
  • Easy collaboration

Google Drive

Google Drive is basically the big brother of Google Docs. This new feature from Google will allow cloud storage users to update, collaborate and have the same features of Google Docs, but with an application downloaded to their desktop. With Google Drive, users can look forward to features that include:

  • Multiple platforms
  • Free storage of up to 5GB
  • The ability to upgrade storage
  • A file size limit of 10GB
  • Multiple features

SkyDrive

SkyDrive is a cloud storage service provided to users by Microsoft. SkyDrive decided to upgrade and release their new features just one day prior to the launch of Google Drive, but unfortunately their ploy did not work when it came to who got more attention. Even though SkyDrive was low on the media watch list, it does provide cloud storage users a variety of features that include:

  • Multiple platforms
  • Free storage of up to 7GB
  • The ability to upgrade storage
  • A file size limit of 2GB
  • The ability to recover synched files even if the computer has not updated them

Today there are hundreds of cloud storage and cloud computing services to choose from. Users should consider their needs and amount of storage in general. For most users, free cloud storage is more than capable of handling their back up and media storage needs.

By KoriLynn Johnston

Free Cloud Service Accounting Software Giving Quickbooks A Run For Their Money

Free Cloud Service Accounting Software Giving Quickbooks A Run For Their Money

cloud accounting

Quickbooks has been the leader in business accounting software for quite some time. In the past few years, this business accounting authority has turned to cloud services to host their accounting program online, thus allowing users the ability to do their accounting anytime, from anywhere in the world. Though Quickbooks is one of the leaders, new business and personal accounting software companies are also offering their accounting through a cloud service, and some are even doing it for free.

Free Business Accounting through Cloud Services?

Like Quickbooks, most cloud service accounting software has some sort of monthly service fee that ranges from $30 to over $100 per month. However, there are now new age cloud service accounting companies who offer 100 percent free accounting programs. WaveAccounting.com, a new kid on the block for cloud service accounting programs, offers cloud computing services that are completely free for freelancers and small business owners who want a cloud service accounting program, but without the high costs.

On-Site Features through Cloud Services

Featured in “The New York Times,” PC Magazine and Profit, Wave Accounting offers a free cloud service accounting program that has the same features as the paid cloud computing accounting services. With Wave Accounting, users are given a user name, sign-in page and password. From there they log-in, link bank accounts and credit cards and update their spending and income instantly. Wave Accounting allows users to generate estimates, invoices and statements that can be personalized to the user’s needs for a professional company image.

What about Security?

Many worry that a free cloud service accounting program might lack in security and privacy, but Wave Accounting has already proven itself worthy when it comes to customer security. The site offers privacy and security features that include:

  • 256-bit SSL encryption
  • Secure storage 24/7/365 with added customer support and troubleshooting
  • Read-only capabilities
  • Certified third-party security measures
  • Backup procedures to automatically save each time users exit their site
  • Safe, secure collaboration

Wave Accounting prides itself on being more secure than accounting with an on-site computer. With their cloud service accounting, users no longer have to worry about computer crashes, virus attacks, power outages or even theft – everything is secure and stored through the cloud service.

Wave Accounting is not the first free cloud service accounting program and certainly will not be the last. With such cloud services gaining funding from the banks and lenders they link with, the possibilities for free cloud service accounting will be endless in the near future.

By KoriLynn Johnston

Do You Need Cloud Computing?

Do You Need Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing, often referred to as cloud storage, is a service that allows users to access and store information on a server that is hosted over the internet. All of the storage is considered self-service and the user is responsible for updating, downloading and managing their own storage. Rather than installing these storage solutions on a device, users can access their cloud storage online through their web browser using the provider’s site.

Versatility

Cloud computing allows a user to perform a multitude of tasks online from any device and all items are updated in real time. Users likely already utilize some form of cloud service – only they do not realize it. For example, small businesses that use QuickBooks Online are already using a form of cloud service for their bookkeeping. Cloud applications are part of the cloud computing family since they operate entirely online and the user must log-in to a web browser and be connected to the internet in order to access, download and update their files.

Free Cloud Services

There are a variety of cloud computing services such as Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. These managed service providers allow users to store information, email and collaborate on files from one location and for free. Larger businesses are able to use similar services, but typically will have to pay for an upgraded account to access all features and increase their storage space.

Why Should Businesses Switch to the Cloud?

Not every business user is convinced that the cloud is right for them. That being said, more small business users are taking advantage of the versatility and money-saving benefits of cloud storage and cloud computing each day. Cloud storage gives smaller businesses the same data and network capabilities of larger corporations, but without the overhead costs associated with network storage and IT departments.

Small businesses are also utilizing cloud computing for their accounting and human resources software applications. Cloud services such as Smart Recruiters allows small and medium-sized business the ability to track applications and resumes received for job postings. Freshbooks is an example of an online accounting program that gives small businesses the ability to have the same accounting capabilities of big companies, but without the need to purchase multiple software licenses.

Cloud storage and cloud computing are becoming a way of life for most individuals and small businesses. Since cloud computing is more reliable than traditional hard-drive storage, more private users are storing their documents, photographs and other media files on the cloud too.

By KoriLynn Johnston

5 Ways A SMB Can Get The Most From Their Cloud Storage Provider

5 Ways A SMB Can Get The Most From Their Cloud Storage Provider

Source: Lisa Howarth

Cloud storage is becoming a way of life for most small businesses. Since cloud storage provides a reliable and safe data storage option for companies who cannot afford to create an in-house data center, multiple carriers have shown up on the market urging users to take advantage of their cloud storage services. That being said, there are still pitfalls to using cloud storage and backup services, especially for small businesses that might not do their due diligence when it comes to researching a new carrier. Therefore, users should consider a few of the following methods for getting the most from their cloud storage while not compromising security and reliability.

Technical Due Diligence

Users should look for real security that includes encryption and bandwidth support. A cloud storage provider should have their own backup so that if there is ever an outage or natural disaster, they are able to recover their own as well as their customer’s data.

Financial Backing

While some established cloud storage providers look promising, some are in deep financial distress. Therefore, users should look into the financial backing and reliability of a cloud service before actually using it. Believe it or not, some startups actually have a better financial backbone than those larger cloud storage service providers. 

Read the Fine Print in the Contract

When a user is ready to use a cloud storage provider they will have to review a contract. The contract will go over what features are included, what is covered and what a user can expect by using that particular service. All users should read the fine print in any service contract before making their first payment.

Selectively Archiving

Though cloud storage is perfect for storing mission critical data, users are recommended to have a backup to their own cloud storage backup. Therefore, any mission critical or serious data should be backed up using the cloud storage provider as well as a physical hard-drive or perhaps another cloud storage provider to ensure critical data is never lost. Users should also consider scheduling regular backup services to ensure that their information is regularly updated.

Review What is Stored

Though important data is stored, not all of it needs to be retained forever. Therefore, users should look through their data storage at least once a month to see what they have archived and if any of it can be cleaned out. The less personal information stored for a lengthy period of time, the better.

By KoriLynn Johnston

The New Age Cloud Storage: Pin Boards

The New Age Cloud Storage: Pin Boards

pinterest social cloud

You know it happens to you: You browse the Internet and find a great recipe, the perfect couch or a wreath you’d like to DIY for Christmas. The only issue is, now you have to bookmark that page and hope you remember

that it’s there when the time comes to take a look at it. Pinterest, the online pin board, eliminates the need to bookmark pages or scour the Internet for hours looking for that perfect picture to go along with an idea. This revolutionary cloud storage option combines traditional bookmarking, photo pinning and social media into one centralized location. In fact, it’s now one of the fastest growing social media cloud storage sites in the world.

Linking to Social Media

Unlike most cloud storage programs, Pinterest links directly to social media pages like Facebook. By doing so, friends and family can follow one another’s “pins” to see what others are looking at and pinning. This social media link helped Pinterest grow over 17 million users in just nine short months – unheard of for most cloud storage providers.

Pinterest and Amazon Web Services

Pinterest would not have been able to grow their cloud storage at the rate they did without the assistance of Amazon Web Services, or AWS. Since Pinterest did not have the funding or capability to create their own data center, they relied heavily on the data storage and cloud services of Amazon Web Services.

pinterest

The more companies like Pinterest utilize Amazon, the more Amazon will have to expand. Amazon is already reporting a 30 percent annual growth, which has prompted Amazon officials to start scouting new locations and planning for additional data center storage space in the near future.

The Growing Cloud

The biggest concern among IT professionals is whether or not this new way of conducting business is more environmentally friendly than that of traditional business. Though companies like Pinterest are not using their own data center, they are operating through the services of a data center that relies heavily on electricity, water and cooling systems required to host Pinterest’s site.

Even so, with more cloud storage services and providers popping up, more companies are converting to a new way of business: one-hundred percent cloud storage. Internet technology companies operating solely through cloud storage are becoming more common, and Pinterest is only one example of those companies.

Pinterest has already proven that cloud storage does not have to be just about media files and document storage. Pinterest combines the world of cloud storage, bookmarking and social media to create a one-of-a-kind cloud computing service for sharing and storing ideas.

By KoriLynn Johnston

Cloud Storage And Accounting: A New Way To Account For Your Business

Cloud Storage and Accounting: A New Way to Account for Your Business

When a company purchases accounting software, it is typically installed on one or two computers and stored within an in-house network where individuals can access integral business and financial information. Unfortunately, if the network goes down or the software crashes, this information is lost, and users must rely on the backup – if they were diligent enough to establish one. Over the past few years, more accounting companies have turned to cloud services to host their accounting software. Instead of installing a software program on your computer, you can utilize a cloud service and access your company’s financial information online.

Multiple User Capability
With online accounting hosted through a cloud service, you don’t have to worry about updating or backing up to a network drive, and an unlimited number of users can be granted access to your company’s accounting and financial information. With a cloud service accounting program, you are provided with a username and password, which can be shared with integral members of your company for all-over access.

High Accessibility
Cloud computing accounting software is accessible from anywhere and at any time. Instead of being at the office, you can access your company’s accounting books and ledgers from a mobile device, smart pad or even a home computer by logging in through the cloud service site. Bookkeepers and accountants can also have access anytime and anywhere, and they can be provided with a special username and password that allows them as much or as little access as you see fit. With this level of accessibility, the time you spend traveling to and from your office to update your books is cut significantly, which provides you with extraordinary flexibility to run your business from wherever you are.

Safety
Like most cloud services, cloud computing accounting software is safe and backed by multiple servers and virus protection. In fact, the security offered by cloud computing accounting software companies is far better than the security a company can purchase for their in-house network, which means financial information is more secure on a cloud service.

Pricing
Investing in cloud storage accounting software is significantly cheaper than purchasing a hard disk and installing it in the office. Not only will you save the cost of additional storage and network set-up, but you will also save on the initial accounting software package price, which can be close to $200. That being said, you will have to pay a service fee and storage fee, typically billed monthly, for the cloud computing accounting software, which can add up over time.

Cloud storage and accounting have created a new way to account for your business. Upload receipts from your phone, account for an expense while on vacation or even print out a ledger from your accountant’s office – the possibilities with cloud storage accounting are endless.

By KoriLynn Johnston

CloudTweaks Comics
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