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How to Become More Efficient by Using Cloud Computing

Learn how to use cloud computing for a variety of tasks to help you become more efficient at work including: Strategies for using cloud-based file-storage and data-syncing services; Tips for protecting your data, documents, and files when using file sharing via a cloud service; Suggestions for achieving the best possible results when using real-time collaboration tools to work with others in a virtual workspace.

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This chapter is from the book

Becoming a More Efficient Collaborator

This chapter offers a handful of useful strategies to help you become more efficient using cloud computing for a variety of tasks. This chapter introduces you to the following:

squ.jpg Strategies for using cloud-based file-storage and data-syncing services

squ.jpg Tips for protecting your data, documents, and files when using file sharing via a cloud service

squ.jpg Suggestions for achieving the best possible results when using real-time collaboration tools to work with others in a virtual workspace

The majority of cloud computing services offer a vast and ever-expanding collection of tools to help you become more efficient when working with data, documents, files, and content.

When you work in a company, which services and tools you use might be dictated to you; your managers and IT department might decide which services the company as a whole will use. This will require you to adopt the service and modify your current work habits while taking the steps necessary to protect the content you’re working with. If you have previously stored files locally on your computer, for example, and worked with collaborators face-to-face in a conference room, you now need to get into the habit of storing your content online and interacting efficiently with your collaborators in virtual workspaces.

If you’re the decision-maker within your team or business, the burden of choosing the best cloud-based tools becomes your responsibility. Before you make any decisions, however, it’s essential that you develop a clear understanding of your company’s current operation and needs, as well as the work habits of everyone who will ultimately be using the services you choose. When you have that knowledge, you properly evaluate each service from a functionality perspective and choose one or more ways to use cloud computing that will ultimately be beneficial to your organization. Other important considerations include cost, employee training, and data security and compliance issues.

Working Efficiently with File-Storage and Data-Syncing Services

There are several benefits to using a cloud-based file-storage and data-syncing service. First, your data, documents, files, and content aren’t stored locally, where it’s accessible only to a single computer or mobile device; it’s stored in the cloud, so it’s accessible to any computers and mobile devices to which you can connect the account. This accessibility provides convenience, but it also serves as a secure remote backup. If a computer is lost, stolen, or damaged, for example, you can still access your important content by using other equipment with virtually no downtime.

You should treat cloud-based file storage just like local storage when it comes to organizing and managing files. Create folders and subfolders and give them descriptive names that relate directly to the content you’re storing in them. Also, keep filenames short and relevant. Because files are automatically stored based on date and time, you typically don’t need to include this information in the filename. If you’re working with a group of people who will be sharing files and folders, establish a clear policy for naming and organizing the files and folders in a way that everyone will easily understand.

You and your collaborators should be consistently diligent in storing only appropriate and related content within each folder or subfolder so that everything stays well organized. Try to avoid going more than three to five levels deep when using subfolders. In other words, maintaining an easy-to-navigate file structure is important. Any files or folders that are mislabeled or stored incorrectly need to be fixed.

If you use more than one cloud service, it can be hard to track what things are stored in which location. When possible, it’s important to rely on a single cloud-based file-storage solution for all of your needs. By keeping files in one central service, you won’t waste valuable time keeping track of on which service specific data, documents, and files are stored; you also won’t need to switch between two or three separate services to gather all the content you need for a specific project and then remember where revised versions of files were later stored.

To simplify data syncing between all of your computers and mobile devices, make sure that the service works with the software, mobile apps, and equipment you’ll be using. If necessary, download and install the service’s proprietary software or mobile app onto each of your computers and mobile devices. The only way for content stored in the cloud to automatically sync with all of your computers and mobile devices is if you use the same account information to log in to each service from each of your computers and mobile devices. Also, all of the service’s setup and configuration settings typically need to be set exactly the same on each computer and mobile device.

As you transition to working with a cloud service and toolset where everything is stored online and none of your data, documents, or files are stored locally, remember that if you don’t have continuous Internet access, you won’t have access to your content. Common situations when you might not have Internet access include

squ.jpg You opt to work from home, but your home’s Internet connection stops working.

squ.jpg You’re on the road and travel to an area where there’s no cellular data service, and you can’t find a public Wi-Fi hotspot.

squ.jpg You’re traveling by airplane, but the aircraft is not equipped with Wi-Fi during the flight.

squ.jpg The Internet in the hotel where you’re staying during a business trip is unreliable.

squ.jpg You’re traveling abroad, and you want to avoid costly international cellular data roaming charges.

These and other situations require that you plan ahead. Before leaving your office, for example, anticipate what content you’ll need from the cloud and download those files to your laptop computer’s internal hard drive, a portable hard drive, or the internal storage of your mobile device. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until you can once again establish a secure Internet connection before you can access your content.

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