Online cloud storage is a simple idea that can make storing and accessing your important files, photos, music and documents a breeze.
Getting started with an online cloud storage account is easy, and most cloud storage providers let you try a free allowance.
Backing up and accessing your files through cloud storage
Cloud storage works in a simple way. Instead of saving your files onto your PC, or backing up to an external hard drive, you save them online on the cloud.
This lets you access them from any computer by logging into your cloud account. If you update a file from one computer, you'll see the changes on another PC.
Most cloud storage services use sync folders that you can set up on each computer or laptop you use. When you drag a file into the sync folder on one PC, it will automatically appear in your sync folder on another one.
Cloud storage services like Dropbox let you back up thousands of files online
Cloud storage: peace of mind for your files, photos and documents
No matter how much you love your laptop, nothing is as important as the data you have saved on its hard drive.
If you lose or damage your laptop, you could potentially lose thousands of digital photos, important files, or your entire music collection.
By backing up these files to the cloud instead, they're saved in a secure location. Even if your laptop is lost, damaged or stolen, you will still be able to access your original files from a new computer.
Cloud storage versus external hard drives
Backing up your data to an external hard drive only defers the worry of losing the files on your PC. Hard drives are every bit as susceptible to damage or loss, or data corruption.
If you're saving a large number of files, it can be more expensive to pay an annual fee for cloud storage than it is to simply buy an external hard drive.
For example, a 1TB hard drive can cost just £40. But 1TB of online cloud storage can cost over £80 a year.
Sharing and editing your files through online cloud storage
One of the best things about cloud storage is the flexibility it gives you for sharing and editing your files.
With a file saved online to the cloud, you can typically share it directly with others via a link or an email invitation.
Some cloud storage services let you password protect files so only those with the password can access them.
In some cases, you can even edit an document online in the cloud without having to download it back to your PC and open it in a program first.
Microsoft OneDrive lets you open documents for editing through its Word and Excel web browser apps, via your smartphone, tablet and PC, and Google Drive uses Google Docs for editing and even collaborative editing with others.