Cloud confusion? Donna Gilliland has the lowdown…

Now that mobile phones have become part of both our personal and business lives, it is increasingly important to know how to store, backup and access data from the cloud.

Cloud benefits overview

Cloud storage is a web-based service for backup and access of a variety of data types: documents, photos, videos and more in a flash – and I don’t mean from a flash drive!

There are many cloud storage services and it can be confusing to know how to choose between and use them. Learning at least the fundamentals about a few of the top ones will help you to make an informed decision about which are best suited for your business and/or personal use.

Before we dive in, a quick overview of the benefits:

  • Data backup and storage
  • Security
  • Accessibility and organization
  • Free productivity tools
  • Collaboration with others, anywhere at any time
  • No need to email large files.


Our first cloud stop is iCloud, which is an Apple service. Imagine if you damaged or lost your iPhone or iPad and you had never taken the steps to secure the data. It could be devastating. iCloud, if turned on, will automatically back up each day over Wi-Fi when your devices — iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch — are turned on, locked, and connected to a power source.

When you turn on a new iOS device, or if you update to the latest version of iOS, there will be a setup assistant to activate your device and set up iCloud. If you skipped the setup process and now want to turn on iCloud, tap the Settings icon, located on the Home screen, and choose iCloud to get started.

Once it is set up for each device, your app data, documents and photos will be in sync across multiple devices.

When you sign up for iCloud, you automatically get 5 GB of free storage. Your iCloud storage is used for iCloud Backup, iCloud Drive, iCloud Photo Library, app data and documents stored in iCloud, and iCloud Mail (your email account). You can upgrade your storage space whenever you need to. — Article resource: Apple Support.

Learn more about iCloud setup and use at


NOTE: iCloud Drive is a built-in app within iOS 9. It provides quick access to files stored to iCloud, such as your Keynote presentations, spreadsheets, images and PDFs. iCloud Drive can be used from your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or PC.

I love this app because you can access what you save to iCloud from one place on your Home screen.

Learn more at:



Windows Devices, iPhone, iPad, Android, PC and Mac

If you want to stay all Microsoft for online storage and access your files from multiple devices, Microsoft’s OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) might be the right solution for you. OneDrive is also part of Windows 8 and Windows 10. You can use OneDrive from your PC, iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows devices. OneDrive is also available for the Mac.

OneDrive is intended more for personal use. It is free and comes with 5GB of online storage. You can pay for additional storage, if needed. OneDrive is available to anyone who has a Microsoft account or is using Visit to set up your account.

NOTE: Office 365 subscribers get 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage per user, for up to five users.

When logged into your OneDrive account on the Web, you will have access to free Microsoft Office Web versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Another version of OneDrive is OneDrive for Business. It is tightly integrated with Microsoft Office 365 and intended more for business organizations. OneDrive for Business provides organizations with higher-level features for document management and collaboration among teams.

Google Drive

Android, iPhone and iPad

Available for the Mac and Windows PCs

Google-lovers can stay in the Google family using Google Drive for their file storage. Drive also includes access to a free office suite of productivity tools, including a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation app. Any knowledge you have of Microsoft Office, Word, PowerPoint and Excel will make working with Google Docs a very easy transition.

A Google account is needed in order to use Google Drive. If you have a Gmail account, you are ready to start using Google drive. Go to to get started.

NOTE: Google Drive benefits:

  • Store photos, videos and documents.
  • Office suite of productivity tools.
  • View over 30 file types in your browser – even if the program isn’t installed on your computer.
  • 15GB of free storage.
  • Stay in sync across all your devices.


Android, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Kindle Fire, Windows Phones and Tablets, Windows PC and Mac

 Dropbox can be used for backing up a variety of file types. Organize what you upload by creating Dropbox folders. You can invite others to your folders and/or send links to specific files and photos.

The individual free plan starts with 2GB of free storage but with each friend referral to Dropbox, your storage amount is increased by 500 MB. A Basic account can earn up to a total of 16GB of increased storage by way of friend referrals.

Cloud storage: the bottom line

It’s about securing data and anytime access. Backup your data, access from multiple devices and work collaboratively from anywhere, any time. It’s the way of today’s mobile worker.

Donna Gilliland is the founder of MOSTraining, Incorporated. She is a professional speaker and educator who helps companies increase their workforce productivity using Microsoft Office 365, Google, and social media. She was also featured in both 2021 and ... (Read More)

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