Saturday, January 22, 2011

Livedrive: Backup and File Sharing

Computing in the cloud has its great benefits. I used to have both feet firmly entrenched in the Microsoft Office group: Outlook for email, Word for writing. But when I got my most recent computer, I decided not to install Outlook. Sure, I'd be down if the Internet went down, but that's rare. And I also realized that when something goes wrong with a major program such as Outlook, it might take a long time for me to fix it as I try this, that, and the other thing. But when Google Docs has a glitch, a couple of dozen really sharp people are going be summoned to fix the problem.

I've written about cloud computing --the art of using online software-- before.  Cloud compuing involves being able to access your files from any computer, any time. Online software suites such as Google Docs and Zoho Writer let you do that, but sometimes it's helpful to be able to access your desktop's computer's files wherever you happen to be.

Livedrive is an interesting and useful service that you might want to consider if you're stepping into the cloud. In addition to providing inexpensive unlimited backup, Livedrive can create a shared drive. Through Livedrive you create an "L" drive on your computer (or other drive letter), and any of your computers can access that drive. Anything you copy to your L drive will be available on any other computer's L drive.  You can also access your files on your smartphone. Pretty handy.

I want to revisit two other online services that you can use to get your stuff from here to there. Dropbox is the cat's pajamas when it comes to Internet file sharing. If you don't have a free Dropbox account (2GB of storage; you can purchase more), now's the time. Dropbox has an iPhone app, so you can also access your files on your smartphone.

Evernote is one of my essential programs. Unlike most other file sharing programs, Evernote enables you to share notes (including audio graphics) and access your notes from your computer, the Internet, or your smartphone.  You can quickly and easy clip and paste notes from websites, emails, or anything else into Evernote.  Evernote is free (with limits), and you can also get an enhanced, paid Evernote account.

These three services, Livedrive, Dropbox and Evernote make cloud computing easier and risk-free.

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