Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Life is Easy on the Cloud 

Ilia Zolas

You've probably heard of it , but just in case you haven't, the term "cloud" refers to "cloud computing" which involves "distributed computing over a network, where a program or application may run on many connected computers at the same time".

Some great applications and softwares have been developed to help you take advantage of managing your time and productivity for you and your business. Let's take a look at some of these easy to use software:

1. Dropbox


First introduced to me during my university days, Dropbox is one of the most simple ways of making all of your documentation accessible to you from any device with an Internet connection. This is particularly useful when working on projects between multiple people over long distances as any one file can be edited and saved for the next person to continue from. 

Depending on the amount of space your content requires, Dropbox has multiple tiers for you to choose from including a free subscription. For most recreational users, the 2GB start up space on free subscription is sufficient. All file types can be stored on Dropbox.

As for myself, I subscribe to a monthly 100GB 's for $9.99 ( or R105,24 in South Africa). I use Dropbox with my clients as well as setup their own Dropbox accounts for internal use (180 Degrees Catering and Confectionery are one of my clients using Dropbox internally). I love this tool and recommend it to anyone who likes to have their work close to them.

The Pros:

  • Access to all stored documentation from literally any device that can connect to the Internet.
  • Reliable and convenient.
  • Allows you to be very mobile and fully informed.
  • Files and folders are shareable with other users.
  • Very manual - for people who like to control their sharing methods.

The Cons:

  • Large file sizes can take some time to update on the server.
  • Accessing large files quickly will depend on your Internet connection. In the case of mobile devices, your data package and location can also affect your download speed.
  • Two users cannot edit the same document from different devices at the same time. This is because the content that you changed in the chosen file does not exist yet on the file that your colleague may be working on. Hence, when both of you save your work, the person who was first to save will loose their changes as the the person who saved thereafter will overwrite the previously saved file. You will need to add your updates and then save the document before someone else can add their changes.

2. Google Drive


A similar tool to Dropbox, Google Drive (GD) does the same thing but with some different services. GD stores and updates your documents and pushes it out to all of your devices that has GD installed. As a tool for sharing Microsoft Office based documents (Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc.) , it is easy and reliable.

One of the more exciting aspects of GD is its integration with apps , Google+ and other platforms that work alongside or are produced by the Tech Giant Google. You can also access files on your mobile device even when you have no Internet connection by setting up offline access in the Google Drive, Docs, and Sheets apps. If you like user-friendly , this is a great tool. 

The Pros:

  • Access to your all of your files.
  • Allows you to be mobile and fully informed.
  • Integrated with Google Products.
  • You can access files on your mobile device with no Internet connection.

The Cons:

  • Sharing documents is not as flexible as one would have hoped as these are linked and shared through your Google+ account.
  • File updates can take a bit of time to be synced across all media if the file size is especially large.
  • You need to set up offline access which means that you won't be able to access anything that is being added while you are offline.
  • If having a software that gives you manual control of your sharing ways is important to you, Google Drive is not the best option.

3. Trello


Trello is significantly different from Dropbox and and Google Drive in that it is not meant as a storage space, but a project manager. 

Trello is used to help you organize your projects and team members. By signing up on their website, you gain access to your own "Board Panel" where you categorize your projects and activities on the boards provided. 

Next step is getting your colleagues signed up and sharing your boards with them. By getting them to participate, you can share thoughts on projects by uploading your own examples, maintain progress over a variety of projects and even download the app and keep everyone up to date with push notifications.

I currently use this tool with my friends and colleagues at Guitar Excellence and am very satisfied with the level of organization you can achieve over a broad spectrum of activities and with as many people as you need.

The Pros:

  • Creative way of storing and organizing documents and thoughts.
  • Quick to update everyone on the list.
  • Easy to download files posted by other members.
  • Great communication and project management tool.
  • Is accessible from any device with an Internet connection.

The Cons:

  • Not ideal for storage of large files.
  • Requires everyone to log into their accounts to view updates. You can however download the desktop app called Quick Trail here: https://quicktrailapp.com
Being an avid user of both Dropbox and Trello, I highly recommend all of the above mentioned tools to business owners, freelancers and individuals who are looking for fast and effective ways of organizing files, advancing projects and most importantly, being able to access your content at any time from almost anywhere. 

Ilia Zolas
BSc In International Hospitality Management

Thank you for your time and I look forward to sharing more content just like this. If you'd like to be kept updated, please fill in your details below to be added to my mailing list.

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