BITS & BYTES: Cloudy with a chance of data

There is nothing worse than finding that you forgot that important presentation on a thumb drive at home. Worse still is plugging in your drive to print or present and see that your files are corrupted.

Luckily, the abundance of cloud-storage services have pretty much fixed the problem, and if you’re not using them, you should.

Companies like Dropbox and Evernote make it easy to upload just about anything up to a server and have it anywhere that has Internet access.

Both services let you upload photos, documents, video and audio from just about any networked device. The best part is that both services are free.

Sometimes, you actually need to edit or create a document, but not every device has a productivity suite like Microsoft Office. If you have a Google account, you can use Google Docs to create text documents, spreadsheets, Powerpoint presentations and more. Docs even allows you to share your documents so you can work with a team and make changes in real time.

Even if you do not need constant access to your files, cloud services serve as a back up.

Sooner or later, your hard drive will fail — that is a fact, it’s just a matter of when. With the adoption of solid-state drives, you no longer have the clicking of the old magnetic platter hard drives as an indicator of when your drive might fail.

Without a backup, your data is lost. Photos, music, videos, documents; gone.

While you can pay some to recover your data, it tends to be expensive and you will only get a portion of your data back, if any.

A good rule to follow is to have three copies of your data: an external hard drive, physical media (discs), and a copy that is off-site. Cloud services are perhaps the best method for an off-site backup since you always have access to it.

Most cloud services offer some free storage, for example, Dropbox gives you a two-gigabyte locker. But even paid storage lockers tend to be inexpensive.

If you aren’t using these services, you should. They easy, safe, reliable and, most importantly, free.