For more than a decade, people have been taking advantage of doing it in “the Cloud” by accessing computer programs and online services through the internet rather than solely from the device they are working on.
‘Cloud’ based services allow you to create and edit files from any device, such as Google’s G Suite or Microsoft’s Office 365, or use software as a service (SAAS) from any device, such as online accounting services Xero, MYOB Essentials or QuickBooks.
A number of these Cloud based services are also easily accessed through apps on your mobile phone or tablet, making it easy to do anything, anywhere.
Learn how you can do it in the Cloud: cheaply, safely and cleverly:
Do it cheaply
A number of Cloud based services are either free or inexpensive, and easy to use. Often the business model for Cloud based services is to provide you with the service for free up to a certain limit (eg free for a limited number of users, days, storage space etc), however, once you discover what a great service it provides, you are willing to pay the often low-cost monthly subscription costs.
Services such as Gmail (Google) open a whole new world of freely available Cloud-based services such as Google Calendar and Google Hangouts (online meeting room). It also has Google Drive which not only allows you to store your files in the Cloud, but also to do online word processing and spreadsheets through GDocs/GSpreadsheets, and collect online information through GForms.
Other cheap or free Cloud based services or SAAS include:
- Dropbox or iCloud – automatically sync and backup your files to the Cloud
- Hootsuite – manage your social media posts and interactions
- Endnote – make digital notes, and set actions and reminders
Do it safely
There has been a lot of media coverage lately about computer viruses hacking into the computer systems and making file and system access impossible. To avoid this ensure you:
- Have up-to-date anti-virus software on your computer
- Ensure that you allow system and web browser updates to happen when prompted
- Never open an attachment or click on a link in an email or in social media from someone you do not know or have not heard from in awhile (this means they may have been hacked, and the virus is sending out bogus but infected emails/posts)
- Watch out for ‘fake’ emails where it looks like they are from your bank, credit card company or PayPal – none of these companies will ask you to open a document or click on a link in an email but rather ask you to log into their secure online site to communicate with them regarding your money
- If you are not sure, check it on your mobile phone as there is a much lower chance that the virus will attach this device
- Have strong passwords which have a minimum of 8 characters made up of letters, numbers and symbols
- Do not use the same password across multiple Cloud-based services
Do it cleverly
While there are many benefits to doing it in the Cloud, it does require good digital literacy. Deakin University describes three elements of digital literacy:
- Finding information online by searching and navigating around the internet by using key search terms
- Using information found online by critically assessing whether the information which you find is useful to your needs, as well as accurate
- Disseminating information online by communicating and connecting with others without breaching copyright or intellectual property rights, or spreading ‘fake news’ or offending others
In business, other elements of digital literacy include:
- sourcing and selecting the right Cloud based service which meets your business needs
- legally and ethically managing information collected about your staff, suppliers and customers to ensure you correctly maintain people’s privacy
- managing your business’s intellectual property and copyright
Here are some ways to improve your digital literacy:
- Attending computing workshops at your local business enterprise centre or community centre, library or educational organisation, or
- Doing an online course (free or paid) such as Microsoft’s The Internet, Cloud Services and the World Wide Web online course which covers topics like computer security and privacy
Cloud based services will continue to grow as their ease of use offer many benefits so make sure you are making the most of these services to manage your life and your business – cheaply, safely, cleverly.
Contact us now (email or [+61] 0400 732 270) to discuss how we can help you do it in the Cloud: cheaply, safely, cleverly.