Get Your Head--And Your Devices--Into The Cloud: 4 Ways To Use Cloud Computing

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Cloud computing allows you to store computer resources such as files and programs remotely, so that you can access them from any location, using any compatible device. A variety of consumer cloud products and services are available, and you can use many of them for free. Although storing documents is probably the most common use--uploading work files to the cloud, for example, and working on them at home--it's definitely not the only one.

Back Up Your Data

You can back up your computer, tablet and phone to the cloud so that you can restore your data in the event a device crashes and loses it. Your cell provider may offer the service free with recent operating systems. For tablets, search your app store for a compatible app. Computers can be backed up for free using any number of services, and light users can often make do with a free account. If you store a lot of media, however, you may want to upgrade to get more space.

Subscribe to Software You Can't Afford to Buy

Some of the most popular software packages on the market--programs that cost hundreds of dollars to purchase--are now available as cloud-based subscriptions. For a monthly fee that averages around $10 per month, you get unlimited, unrestricted use of the most recent versions. Available programs include business productivity as well as photo editing and illustration offerings.

Print from Your Phone or Device

Installing a cloud-based drive application on your phone or tablet and a companion application on a computer that's connected to a printer allows you to use the phone or tablet to print to the printer. Not all printers are compatible, but with prices so low, the ability to print from anywhere may be worth the cost of an upgrade.

Move Beyond Bookmarks

If you bookmark a lot of Web pages you'd like to return to later, you know how unruly your bookmark list becomes. Whereas a bookmark creates a shortcut back to a page where you found information or images you want to revisit, cloud Web-clipping services copy the information and images themselves and stores them in folders you create in the cloud. Your clips are fully searchable, and you can index them by creating and applying tags such as <marketing ideas> to describe the content and make it easier to find.

Cloud computing has the potential to transform the way you work and play. Test the waters with these basic services, and before you know it, your devices will be working together seamlessly to improve your productivity and enhance your leisure-computing experience. Ask places like Lafayette Business Machines Inc if their products are compatible with the cloud.