2015 May

Cloud Storage: why, where & how?

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Have you ever heard of the Cloud? We bet you have at this stage heard about cloud technology, cloud services & cloud storage. What the word “cloud” refers to in this context is the storage & services on the Internet – which mean that you can save your files on the Internet, access them wherever and whenever you like and use everything from your computer to your smart MP3 player to do so.

In this article we’d like to introduce you to Cloud storage. Why should you save your files in the cloud and not on your trusty 1TB external Hard Drive? Well, we like to repeat over and over that you should backup your files twice. It’s not going to do any harm if you save the most important files on your external HDD and in a “cloud” folder.

Here are some pros to cloud storage:

  • Accessibility – you can save your files on your computer & then open them on your phone, laptop or tablet even if you’re away from the laptop.
  • Shareability – share your files with whomever you like easily by providing a secure link. If you have party photos or important work files that are too large to send by email for example.
  • Safety – your external hard drive or computer can give up any time – it can suddenly stop working or it can actually be physically damaged (dropped). Sometimes it’s hard to extract data from the damaged drive. If you save it in the cloud – you can just open all your files on a different computer

And there are many more advantages to this. You have to believe us when we say that one of the most common requests come examination season is “My computer stopped working and my entire thesis is on it, I haven’t saved it anywhere else, please get it”. So, here are 5 of our most preferred services that would help you avoid stress over such request.

1. GOOGLE DRIVE 

If you have a Gmail account (just a Gmail email address) you already have a 15GB of free storage on the Google Drive that’s connected to your Gmail address. You can easily find it, just see the picture below.

Google Drive on Gmail MicroPro COmputers TutorialGoogle Drive is extremely easy to use – just click on the “New” button in the folder and choose if you want to upload a file or a whole folder from your computer. It’s a great place to have your photos backed up on your Android device and it even works with iOS (iPhone, iPad, iPod).

In addition to storage you can also create a Word, Excel and PowerPoint files and share them with other people – and all of the people can work on these files at the same time. It’s super handy for club schedules, big written projects etc.

And if you’re after to more than 15GB storage you can pay a monthly fee for quite a good deal on 500Gb or 1TB storage – you can save all of your files then.

2. DROPBOX 

You’re possibly more familiar with Dropbox if you have heard of the storage in the “cloud” before. Dropbox is an inexpensive and simple cloud storage solution that gives you an option to upload your files (2GB of free storage) and share it with other people by sending a simple link.

It works in pretty much the same way that Google Drive does, however if you run a business and need several people to be able to share files using a single folder it would probably be the best option for you – it’s also one of the cheapest for this kind of sharing option.

3. ONEDRIVE

Possibly the best of the online “cloud” storage options out there at the moment, simply because it’s…. unlimited (potentially)! There’s a bit of a catch in this deal though, you’d have to sign up as one of the first people to try this feature (provided you’re an existent Office 365 subscriber). Think of it: your videos, photos, Word & Excel files, presentations & music all available at any time on any of your devices. Want to show a wedding video to all of your friends? You can do so on your phone, your laptop and any other device – provided you have Internet (3G or 4G will do as well). How cool is this? Don’t have Office 365? We’ve got a great deal going on it at the moment at just €99 – and you’re getting a 1TB guaranteed storage with it as it is (which is the same price as Drive or Dropbox).

4. MEGA

This service is not as widely known. However, one of reasons we’ve included it in here is because you get a free 50GB storage with Mega. There’s no trial period – it’s a guaranteed 50GB storage online that you can access any time. It’s handy of you have to send a large amount of information to someone. The rest of the plans are a little more expensive than the previous we have mentions, but, this service provides an excellent speed for the file transfer – if that’s your thing. So, if you’re looking to transfer large files fast – Mega is the service for you.

5. iCLOUD

This is a standard backup service for your iOS device. You can sync files easily between your iPhone, iPad & MacBook. You get 5GB free with your iOS profile and then you can expand to more plans that can only be purchased through the Apple store. It’s handy if you are an Apple addict as you can see your pictures & music synched without you even connecting your devices together (that moment is popularly illustrated in the latest Cameron Diaz movie “Sex Tape”). However, we found that other services above provide a more competitive pricing for larger storage.

A little extra, and one of our favourites when we need to share a simple file with someone – WeTransfer. It’s quick, easy and allows you share just one file with a few people. No need to sign up to anything, pay a fee or store a file. It will keep your file for 14 days after which the link will expire.

How safe is Cloud storage? “Very” – is the easiest answer here. Cloud storage have come the long way since its inception and it’s been around for a while. Your files will be protected by the latest advances in file encryption that are hard to decode. However, we do encourage for you to choose your password wisely. You can read our blog post about passwords and how to maintain a safe password here.

Use Google Maps on your phone without Internet

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MicroPro-Computers-Google-Maps tutorialDo you often get lost in a new city when you travel? We’ve got a handy trick for you this time that allows you to view your location on Google Maps without paying the expensive roaming charges.

You’ll need to be connected to the Internet initially to save the map. You’ll also need a Google account which is your average Gmail email.

Here’s what you do when you use an Android device:

  • Make sure you’re connected to the Internet, then open the Google Maps app.
  • Sign in to your Google Account.
  • Search for a city, like “Dublin” Pinch and zoom to select the area that you want to save.
  • To save the selected area of the map, touch the menu > Make available offline.

If you’re using an iPhone:

  • Make sure you’re connected to the Internet, then open the Google Maps app.
  • Sign in with your Google Account.
  • Search for a city, like “Dublin” and select the area you want to save.
  • Click on the menu (three stripes on the top left) and select “Your Places”
  • Scroll to the bottom > Save an Offline Map & click Save

Now when you’re in the city you have saved the map for you can click on the location navigator (a circle with the dot on the bottom right of your screen) and you’ll find exactly where you are.

At the moment you can’t route to places like on the online version of the map, however, it will show you exactly where you are and where you’re going.

Extra tip: if you’re planning to do a lot of sightseeing, mark the places you want to see on the maps as favorites. Just find a place, like “Dublin Castle”, tap and hold the red pin that appears and tap “Save”. This landmark will now appear as a star on the map and you’ll know how far you’re from it.

Unfortunately, not all of the cities in the world are supported. Most of them are though, but if the app does not allow you to save the map – it’s probably because it’s not supported.