As part of my mission to end up with less stuff and to minimize the clutter in my life, I’ve also set myself on a mission to reduce the amount of paper in my life. Since I’m a big believer in technology and making the world “greener”, joining the big move towards cloud computing makes a lot of sense. It has tremendous benefits, with some downsides of course. Overall, I think it’s a no-brainer and I am gradually moving my things to the clouds. It is referred to as cloud computing but if you are not aware, it’s simply the process of keeping files hosted on web servers instead of physically storing the files either on a computer or even in a filer somewhere in my house.
Today I’d love to discuss the pros and cons and also the different things I’m gradually taking to the clouds. I’d love any input, feedback or ideas that I might not have heard of. Let’s get started:
1-Easy access from anywhere
This is the most obvious benefit. No matter if you are at work, at school, at home, or somewhere else in the world through your mobile phone, it can be very useful to have access to your files, your information music and more.
Clearly, some of us have more space than others but I think we could all agree that photos, music, tax papers and a lot of other things that can be kept in the clouds currently take up enormous space in our homes. Is it really useful to have all of that stuff when there is an easier alternative that requires basically no storage?
3-Easier to find (if well done)
If you are audited by the IRS, and asked about specific receipts or expenses, would you know where to start looking? How easy would it be to find? Ever wondered what that great bottle of wine was or what you ate at this restaurant when you went last year? It’s becoming increasingly easy to access all of that information in a few seconds.
4-Not lost through time
How easy is it for you to find that picture taken 10 years ago at your wedding? Or to find that article or book that you had enjoyed so much and now feel like it would be the perfect read from your beach location?
5-No unfortunate accidents
This is one of the most important parts. When you think of everything in your computer, of your photos, etc. Try to imagine everything being lost. This can happen in a number of different ways. You can be the victim of theft, a fire, your computer or external hard drive could end up being damaged (as happened to me) meaning that you lose everything. Do you have a good system to backup all of your data? Is it done frequently or even better, automatically?
If you remember, some years ago, a very public Twitter leak had the news as all of its internal documents, hosted on Google docs, had been leaked. It’s also possible to imagine having your photos, financial information or other things being leaked either because of a lost password, because one of your devices is lost or because the company that you use to store and backup your information had a leak or was hacked. Keep in mind that many different things are done by the companies (such as encryption) and can be done by users (like using Google 2 step authentication) to greatly reduce the risk. It does however remain a possibility.
I can understand that we each have different levels of comfort. Some don’t feel comfortable using credit cards because the company can easily trace all of their transactions. Others are free with that but hate the idea that a company like Google has access to all of their emails. Then others such as myself use Dropbox to backup multiple very private files. It all depends and there is no right or wrong answer. I think we also evolve over time in terms of how we perceive our sensitive data.
What I Am Moving To The Clouds
The obvious one. Every day, hundreds of millions of users are posting photos on Facebook, Flickr, Instagram and other sites. Why? Easy to publish them, share them with friends, and it also proves a way to back them up.
I used to get tons mail at home. Power statements, phone and cable, etc. These days, I have been able to move most of those to being sent electronically. Its much greener, I receive them in a more timely manner and it’s much easier to access them whenever I want (rather than searching through boxes).
I could be doing much better in this sector. I have moved some of my subscriptions to being electronic only, downloaded and read through my iPad. It’s great because I get them in a timely manner, can have access to several different publications at once, which is extremely convenient when travelling or commuting. The only reason I have not moved completely online is that I already spend enough time on my computer at work and through entertainment at home making me sometimes want to look at actual paper rather than another screen, no matter how small or how beautiful it looks:) But I am getting better:)
I used to always have a notepad in my pocket. I have tons of small ideas, things to do, things that I want to write about, etc. I also get ideas at many points during the day for business, etc. Writing those worked ok but now that I can store everything in a quick email, an application such as Evernote or any other cloud based software, it makes it possible for me to write and access those notes from anywhere.
This shift has been very easy to see. How many different cd or music stores have you seen close in the past 5 years? My bet is quite a few. An increasing portion of music is now sold through itunes. That and the arrival of iPods a decade ago have made it much easier to always have your entire music collection with you without breaking a sweat.Apple has also joined the cloud movement by launching iCloud which makes it easy to have a backup available for all of your itunes items.
I guess the main trend is for many users to not buy movies anymore. They stream them either through services such as Netflix, through platforms like the Xbox. When movies are being purcahsed, it is increasingly being done electronically
There is absolutely no doubt, I have been able to greatly improve my life, diminish the number of things in my life and in my mind by storing my things in the clouds. I do think this will become even bigger in the next 5 or 10 years as things continue to move online… like what? I’d personally love to see my wallett become thinner:
Coupons: There is no reason for coupons to not all be electronically sent, and redeemed, as users continue to move towards smartphones.
Fidelity Cards: I love getting points but hate having to always hold all these cards. I certainly hope that at some point I can simply sign up and then simply scan my phone to get the associated points or benefits.
Receipts: Is there any use to getting all receipts by paper? Some stores such as Apple have already started sending out receipts by email which makes it easier to find later on, requires no storage/filing and is greener for the environment of course.
Some Options To Consider
Next week I will discuss some of the different services that are offered, some that I use, others that you might have used:)