While “cloud storage” sounds like something you might hear about in a weather report, it really refers to saving your smartphone or computer data to an off-site storage system maintained by a third party. With cloud storage, your photos, music, videos and other personal files are uploaded to remote online servers. There is no physical component to it; instead, files are saved in “virtual warehouses.” Once your files are saved to the cloud, you can open them on any of your devices and in any location as long as you have Internet access.
The cloud offers virtually unlimited storage, and using it means you’ll always have a backup solution in case something goes wrong with your cellphone or tablet. There’s no need to worry if you accidentally delete a photo, for instance; if something happens to one of your files, you can access the cloud to retrieve an item that may have been deleted or damaged on your device.
To get started storing files to the cloud, you’ll need to choose an app. Every iPhone includes iCloud for free, which provides up to 5GB of storage for contacts, photos, or messages. Once it’s enabled, iCloud will automatically backup your files, and update regularly to add new ones. The items you store to the iCloud are kept safe and can be accessed from your computer or another device. You can even setup automatic sharing for photos, or share other documents using a unique link. And if you find yourself needing more space, there are additional options available for a small monthly fee.
Millions of Android and iPhone users have come to rely on Google Photos as a handy, free way to store pictures. It offers unlimited storage of photos and videos under 16MP each, and can also be set to automatically backup your files. Best of all, with both of these apps, once files have been saved to the cloud, they can be deleted from your device, freeing up space for more things.
There are plenty of other free options to choose from. Google Drive lets you store and easily share documents; Dropbox also offers easy storage and sharing of documents and photos, plus it allows you to edit files right from your phone or tablet. Amazon Prime members receive access to 5GB of free cloud photo storage using Prime Photos as part of their annual membership.
Cloud storage offers unique ways to conveniently store your personal files, and gives you more flexibility with your device. I find it simple, secure, and easy to use—and love having a little extra “closet space” for all my important information!