Don’t you hate it when your computer breaks down? From permanent file corruption to hard disk crashes, it’s still seems as though modern computers are still very fragile. Unless you are good at making backups, you could be separated from your business data if your computer goes off for repair or at the very worse loose it all.
This is one of the reasons that on any computer that I have, I try to separate data files from the operating system. I try to create a second drive on the hard disk. In my experience, when the hard disk has a problem, it’s normally where the OS is. Loose the OS and you loose everything, unless the data has been separated.
But this doesn’t help much if the computer itself has a problem. If it can’t boot up then you still loose access to everything.
The last thing a business needs is to loose access to customer data, invoices, sales information, emails. What is needed is a greater separation. To avoid dependency on the computing hardware…
Going in to the cloud
Cloud computing is a new innovation that is currently becoming more popular. What this means is that some of the things that you used to do on your computer can now be done on a web page. Not only that but you can also store files and more. This does mean you will become reliant on these services. As they become more popular and better funded, the worry that they may go out of business some time in the future will be something that is less and less likely.
Being hardware independent
The ‘Cloud’ itself is an extension of the Internet, not just a page on a website. For example, Skype and Dropbox are available for different operating systems including mobile phones. I have used both programs on my Linux computer and Android mobile phone.
Web based email can also be used on any computer with a web browser. In the case of gMail, you can also access it on a mobile via an app. Both synchronised, what ever changes the mobile version makes, the browser based view will show the same – and vice versa.
Dropbox can be accessed in several ways, either as a synchronised folder or a web page. Which ever device or operating system you use, you can still access your files and data. You can also set it up to share online folders, great if you have co-workers in different locations.
For social networking, there are plenty of web sites that allow you to manage your activities. Many look like programs running on your computer. Facebook, Twitter, Linked and other similar sites can be used with out the need for special programs. Web based access is normally good enough.
How this applies to business
If you lost access to important business data how long could you continue? Are your emails that important that you can’t do without them?
I am currently looking to moving all that I do to the cloud. I’m already doing quite a bit that only requires a web browser…
It allows me to pickup email from my other websites. It only takes a few minutes to enter the information required (SMTP server etc). When I reply to them, gMail sends from that address. E.g. when I reply to emails from this site that gMail has picked up, any replies look as though they have come from this site. I can choose which site originated the email when I compose a new message.
Used to keep blog backups, important information or anything that I need to keep safe. A folder on my computer is synchronised with the service, quietly in the background.
A version of Tweetdeck is available for web browsers. However you have set it up, it will be the same on which ever you use.
I want to include here OpenOffice as it’s available for Windows, Mac and Linux. As it’s ‘cross platform’ and the data files are the same through out, it doesn’t matter which operating system you are using. We can also consider GoogleDocs and other similar sites.
There are many sites that offer simple compositing to photographic effects. I have not come access sites that do what I need so again I am using programs that are ‘cross-platform’. I use The Gimp and Inkscape because they are also open source.
Skype is also included as it’s available ‘cross-platform’ . There are versions for operating systems and mobile phones. In some case even game consoles. We can also consider Google Voice but more people are aware of Skype.
eCommerce and Blogging
Packages such as Prestashop and WordPress do not need programs installed on your computer. I don’t do eCommerce at the moment but all my blogging is done online with WordPress.
Why it works
When you computer fails, what will you do?
If your computer fails I’m guessing you are going to either buy a new one or send it off for repair. What will you do in the mean time? By being hardware independent you could use anything that was available, as long as it had a modern browser.
Your Windows PC is dead but a friend loans you a Mac Laptop. Once you get over any differences (Mac’s are very friendly, you will learn quick enough) you can start a browser and access your emails.
You are at a business meeting away from the office. Forgotten an important document? Download it from Dropbox and get it printed.
Over to you
It’s now time for you to examine your own practices and weaknesses within your business. Is there something you can move to the cloud and be more flexible with? Are you already doing it? Love to hear your comments below.