Networked in the Clouds

Tired of copying documents to flash drives? Finding it tedious to transfer information from your smartphone to your computer? Terrified you’ll lose your life if you lose your laptop? If you want a secure cyber place where you can access your data any time, consider a big timesaver known as “the cloud.”

The cloud is a third-party network of servers that you can use to sync your various devices—smartphone, laptop, camera, and more—so that your e-mail, document files, photos, videos, and other data are automatically updated. It’s essentially a remote hard drive that allows you to get into your files from any device, at any time, and transfers any changes or updates you make on one device to all of them.

Check out the following cloud-based services:

Dropbox: Lets you access photos, docs, and videos from anywhere and share them easily—for free. Dropbox was founded by MIT students Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, who grew weary of e-mailing files to themselves—from one computer to another—in order to work. Today, more than 45 million people around the world use Dropbox to access and share data.

Google Apps for Business: Offers powerful messaging and collaboration apps that meet business-critical needs like mobile e-mail and calendar and IM access.

Apple’s iCloud: Lets you access your music, apps, photos, and more from any device you happen to be using—your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or PC. It keeps your e-mail, contacts, and calendars up-to-date across all your devices. Amazon’s Cloud Drive: Use it to store your digital data and documents. All you need is a web browser to upload, download, and access your files from any computer.

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