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Are you ready for the cloud

Picture of some clouds

Looking at it from a business perspective, the cloud could be a way to get most of your day to day software for free and it can also be somewhere to store all of your documents either free or for a small monthly fee. It also means that all of the documents you use day-to-day are available from any pc with an internet connection, so you're not tied to being in the office to work.

One of the biggest players to get into the cloud computing world is Google - with Google Docs. This fully web based service lets you make Office compatible documents through your browser that are saved on Google's servers, not on your PC, and this means that you can open and work on them anywhere and you can even give other people permission to look at and edit them. So think of 'the cloud' as a virtual place for you to work on and store your documents – it can bring productivity benefits, it's free, or at worst, very inexpensive and it lets you work wherever you want – which means there must be a catch....

Is cloud computing right for you?

I suppose it's not really a catch, but there are things you need to know before you take the plunge into the cloud. It takes a very brave person to upload their entire business onto someone elses computers and trust that it'll still be there when they come back – and there is the main problem. If you get really bored one day, take a look at the terms and conditions of Google Docs – in a nutshell, it says 'if it all goes wrong and we lose your documents, we're not responsible, also, if we want to, we can suspend or delete your account any time we like, without having to notify you', scary stuff if your entire world is sitting on their servers. Equally, you've got the problem of having to have a broadband connection to be able to work – could you afford to do nothing for a few days because someone has cut your phone line with a JCB?

After reading this, you might think I'm against it, but cloud computing is a wonderful thing and can be used by many companies to improve the way they work – we use it and it works really well. Just have a good long think about what you're going to use it for and how it would affect your business if it all disappeared – my advice, give it a go for something non-critical and see how it goes, you might be converted or do the same as us and use it as a backup for your physical office.

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