Tech Tuesday

Farm Tornadoes, Floods, Storms - Think Cloud

Saving your farm's most valuable information off site is getting easier.

Tornadoes, threats of hurricanes, floods, the burst of lightning from passing storms can wipe out your farm's data in an instant. Living in the country not only has its charms it has its risks. And as your farm business increasingly rides on a growing pile of data, protecting that information becomes more important than ever.

We've talked in the past about off-farm data backup systems like Carbonite or Mozy that allow you to protect information because there's at least one copy off site. But these days protecting, and sharing, information is getting easier.

I've discussed "the cloud" in this blog before, but the more you use it the more you like it. The cloud is essentially an automatic service linked to your computer that makes information available (data protected of course) wherever you want it. Consider it an enhanced form of backup.

I'll use an iPad/iPhone example, but read on to learn more about a new service coming from Google too. Apple introduced its iCloud last year and when it first came out I wasn't sure how I'd use it. Today, it makes more sense. If I write something in Pages (their iPad word processor) and have Pages on my iPhone, that document will be stored there as well. If I need access to notes from a meeting or other information I've stored in Pages, I can get to it easily.

When I upgraded by iPad - very nice - and installed Pages into it my "cloud" files automatically reinstalled into the new device. Very nice since I have some long-standing documents I've been tweaking in there and I didn't lose them or have to worry about transferring them when I changed machines.

Now, Google is creating Google Drive, which will be the same thing. You'll be able to transfer farm stuff into Google drive and know you can always get at it from any other device over the Web. Or if you need to share a document or a data package you've saved to Google Drive, that's easy too.

I know farmer-readers and you're a creative bunch. Once you get the hang of the cloud I'm thinking you'll come up with a wide range of uses for this handy approach to information. Of course, protecting photos, yield data files, spreadsheets and other information will be paramount, and knowing you can get at it easily will help too.

Just like Apple's iCloud, Google Drive gives you 5 gigabytes of free storage space. The cost to go to 25 gigabytes (which is a lot of data) is about $2.50 per month. Remember, Google likes free, and $2.50 per month for 25 gigabytes is as close to free as you'll ever get.

And you can share that information not only from computer to computer, but from computer to smart phone or tablet to computer. The idea of universal personal data access is at hand.

If you're using some kind of cloud service already on your farm, and you have found ways to use it you never considered, pass along the idea using the comments area below. Other readers will appreciate new ideas.

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