Last week I discussed the best cloud apps for managing your contacts and business cards, but what about everything else you do while on the go? Can you use the cloud to be more productive in other areas? Of course you can! There are apps that leverage the cloud to do almost everything you do online, and they can help you do it smarter (and faster!). Here are a few of my favorites:
1. Cloud file storage
No matter what line of business you’re in, there are surely dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of files you need to manage. Wouldn’t it be great to have access to them everywhere you go? Thankfully, the prices of cloud storage are falling every year, and it’s becoming simpler than ever to point an app to your documents folder and let it sync to the cloud and across your devices.
Stop carrying around flash drives and never be caught in a meeting without access to a crucial document ever again!
If you’re a small business or entrepreneur, one great solution I like is to switch your business over to Google Drive, which provides both document storage and editing of all your docs, spreadsheets, and presentations in one place. Fully compatible with other office suites but available on every device you can think of, Drive is a great way to promote team collaboration on important documents and make sure your company has all of their important docs in one place.
But larger companies that may be more resistant to switching over to Google for all their document needs, either Dropbox or Box.net can help. You can get several gigabytes of storage on either service for free so you can try them out, and since both offer apps for every mobile device out there, you can have your documents, pictures, and more easily synced across all your devices and never be caught without a crucial file again!
2. Cloud backups
Okay, quick show of hands: how many of you regularly back up all of your data to an external hard drive? Now, keep your hand up if you use multiple hard drives. Okay, finally, keep those hands up if you store those multiple hard drives in geographically disperse, secure locations.
Any hands still up? I didn’t think so.
While at a minimum you should have backup drives locked up at least at home and at the office, in the event of disaster like a hurricane or earthquake, both of those locations could be inaccessible. At the very least, a secure backup out of the state will mean you’ll still have your files if you need them. But accomplishing that is tough—are you prepared to mail or drive backup drives to a remote location once a month? Wouldn’t it be great if you could have that same level of security without the hassle?
Enter cloud backups, where you can cheaply encrypt and copy the entire contents of your hard drive to a remote location and let someone else worry about keeping it up-to-date and safe. Two apps I like here are Carbonite and BackBlaze and they both start at under $5/month for unlimited data! Compared to the trouble you’d have to go to for the same level of protection for your data, it’s a steal! But don’t think that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still back your data up to drives locally—you never know!
3. Cloud storage of ideas
If you’re anything like me, you’ve always got lots of ideas and nowhere for them to go. When you’re on a mobile device and the light bulb goes off, what do you do? Put that idea in the cloud! Apps like Evernote let you put text, pictures, and audio recordings in the cloud, so you can search them and access them on every device you own, from your smartphone to your tablet and even the PC on your desk or the laptop you carry everywhere. Plus, Evernote is a great place to work on documents when you’re on the go. After all, how many times do you actually need a fully-fledged word processor to flush out a proposal or meeting notes? Evernote let’s you do that from any device you have handy, and with the cloud powering the back-end you can be sure you never lose a note and can get to it anywhere you are.
What if your needs are simpler, and you just need an app to jot down some ideas? For that, I recommend Simplenote, which does just what you think. Simplenote makes it dead simple to store notes, ideas, lists and more as well as make it easy to search and find exactly what you’re looking for. Plus, just like Evernote, it syncs to the cloud and is accessible from every mobile device out there. My recommendation is to give them both a shot, and then see what works best for you!
No app can fill everyone’s needs, but these apps are basic utilities everyone should have. What parts of your workflow would be easier to manage with the cloud? Leave me a message in the comments below, and I’ll see if I can find a solution that fits your needs!
Mario Armstrong, Digital Lifestyle Expert, is an Emmy Award winning, tech commentator for the TODAY show, CNN, HLN and Fuse. An entrepreneur by nature, Mario made his passion his career by quitting his day job and founding Mario Armstrong Media. Follow Mario at @MarioArmstrong. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.