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Backing up my life on the cloud

For well over a decade I’ve been using online storage solutions for files that have been important to me. But as the years have gone by, what I’ve wanted to store has quite dramatically increased in size. 2Gb of free storage is no longer suitable.

When I first began using online storage solutions – now called ‘the cloud’ – I used it to just back up a few important documents. I think it was Google Docs that I first began this process with. But then I began using Dropbox to include documents created on my computer, and various other personal files.

The normal amount of storage available to people using Dropbox is 2Gb, but I currently have 55 Gb of storage. Free. Don’t ask me how I’ve got that; I think it’s related to the number of times I’ve added Dropbox to new computers (or new installations on the same computer), and they give me a bonus every time I do so.

I used to have about 12 Gb of that storage taken up with documents and photos, but with the amount of times I reinstall Windows or Linux, re-downloading everything has been really annoying – not to mention a drain on the monthly download limits we have here in Australia.

I like the idea of getting everything backed up on the cloud, but when you have so much that you want backed up and stored forever, how do I do that completely and successfully?

I have a 1 Terabyte hard drive on my computer which I use as a local backup drive. It has about 700 Gb of files stored on there at the moment. Admittedly, much of what’s stored there is sentimental rather than important. I found a 4 Gb backup of important documents on a laptop I had back in 2005. Do I need that now? No.

But I DO need that 50 Gb of photos I’ve got backed up!


(I started writing the above earlier this morning, and now it’s almost midnight.) This afternoon I did some extensive research and worked out that the best solution for my needs is Google Drive. Free gives me 15Gb a month, but for $2 a month I get 100 Gb of storage, or $10 a month will give me 1 Tb of storage. Nice!

And the good thing about it is that once I upload folders of data, I can deselect the option to sync that folder every time, so that it just stays there in the cloud, always backed up, but never to be downloaded when I reinstall Google Drive on new computers. However, at any time, I can still access the files via a web browser, or I can download them at a later time.

This is a good thing. For the past couple of years, all my photos have been auto-backed up to Google Plus online photos, and always available. The 50 Gb of photos I have on my secondary hard drive is simply old photos from my past that I don’t want to lose. I don’t always need them available, but it would be nice to know they’re always available should I need them.

Once I get all my needed files backed up on the cloud without syncing with my computer, I’ll have less of a need for a large secondary hard drive. Most of my activities can be based on cloud storage, and I’ll only use the hard drive for the installation of programs to run on the computer. All my really important, must-be-always-available files add up to about 5 Gb. Those are the files I can afford to always be syncing with a local copy for easy and fast access.

What about security concerns?

Unlike many people affected by media hype, I know that my data has no interest to government authorities. They don’t care about me, because I’m not doing anything illegal or suspicious. And if corporations use my data to try and send me advertising that’s relevant to my lifestyle, so what? I use ad-blocking software in my web browser so I never see advertising anyway, and email spam just gets trashed.

Life’s much simpler when you block the advertising that you don’t want to see.

It’s also much simpler when you can base your activities in the cloud so that you can access important files wherever you are in the world, on whatever computer you might be using – your own, or someone else’s, or even on your phone.

Having cloud access to files has allowed me to access them on my phone to show someone, or to send to them by email on the spot. It’s very convenient.

Cloud storage helps with a minimalist lifestyle

If you’re trying to simplify your life and become minimalist in your approach to it (as I am), then the more physical stuff you can get rid of, the better.

Files stored in your desk or even filing cabinet can be photographed and stored in the cloud, and then the physical files (where appropriate) can be thrown away. You don’t have to worry about them any more. Just make sure your photos are adequately named and categorised and you no longer need physical storage in your house for anything.

You can even do this with those sentimental items that you put on the mantelpiece or in the cupboard, or in the garage because there’s no room in the house. If it’s your memories you want to cherish and a physical item helps you do that, then just take photos of it and throw the item away. The photos will help you remember as the years go by.

Backing up everything onto the cloud just makes life easier.

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