Cloud storage is here to stay and improve how you use your devices.

I talked about the importance of Cloud storage in my article about Windows 10.  Cloud storage essentially means that your files are stored on servers accessible over the internet.  Programs on your computer can seamlessly keep a copy of these files on your computer, but you can use the files just like anything else on your computer.  The great part is that when the files are updated anywhere, the changes are synchonized with the copy on the internet and then with any other devices you own that share the files.  So if you update a recipe document on your computer, that same recipe is updated and your other devices then have the latest copy.  Your files are also backed up not just in the internet but on every one of your devices, depending on your settings.  This is amazingly convenient and protects your data at the same time from loss.

 

Suddenly about now, people stop me and ask “is that safe?” and “Can’t anybody can steal my files?”  Well, you’re not the first person to think of that problem, and companies using cloud services have been building in better and better safeguards for years.  Let’s start by thinking about your laptop.  If somebody steals it or if you lose it, your hard drive contains all your files.  With physical access, your data is ALWAYS vulnerable.  People can remove the hard drive from your computer and copy your files with our without the password to your computer.  The cloud can help with this.

 

The approach to digital security is adapting to reflect the facts of cloud based storage.  There are two tricks to securing data on portable devices:

  • You can ENCRYPT your device’s data, rendering it useless to thieves: For example, you can upgrade Windows to include “Bitlocker,” encryption on your hard drive that renders your data to be gibberish unless Windows boots up and decodes it, and this requires you to login with a real password.  Encrypting all the data on your hard drive requires special software and specific setup, and right now nearly all personal computers do NOT have this set up.  Typically, this is reserved for enterprise-level computers configured by an IT department with security in mind.
  • You can keep data in the cloud ONLY. . . simply keep your cloud data in the cloud and only copy it to your computer when you use it.  Cloud storage programs can be set up this way and Microsoft’s OneDrive is especially good at this.  While your files are inaccessible, though, without access to the internet, you can specify that certain files are available all the time, balancing security against convenience on your terms.  Technology has a solution for every situation, and every situation is different.  That is where I come in.  We can discuss how safe your data is and balance your concerns with convenience and security.

 

Finally, there is the issue of passwords.  Your cloud data is only as safe as your password, but this is changing.  Now, Microsoft, Google, Dropbox, Apple, and others have started using something called Two Factor Authentication, which I plan to discuss in my next blog entry, to prevent people from accessing your stuff even if they have stolen your password!  It’s a huge advance and can be integrated with programs that help you manage your passwords as well as biometric devices, like fingerprint readers.  For instance, we installed a fingerprint reader on our computer at home, so everyone in the family can log in to the kitchen computer with just their finger.

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