Cloud storage makes new computer setup simple and organized

Earlier this week, I set up a new computer and it wasn’t completely horrible, thanks to “cloud storage.” Nearly all of my important information — contacts, photos, music, and more — isn’t stored on my computer. Therefore, once I got the new laptop connected to the Internet, all I had to do was log into the various services I subscribe to and I was back in business.

Years ago, buying a new computer was a bittersweet process. It’s always exciting to get a shiny, new machine, but the process of transferring your data from the old one to the new one was painful. I can remember emailing stuff to myself, using a USB flash drive over and over and even connecting two computers with a cable. Not to mention the hours and hours of time spent waiting for huge collections of photos and music to transfer, and the stress of getting emails and contacts in place.

Today, things have changed.


For me, the answer is Flickr. I love that it has:

  1. A terabyte of storage for free. If you’re shooting 7 megapixel photos, that’s 499,000 individual, full-resolution shots.
  2. Privacy. It’s easy to determine who gets access to which photo.
  3. Browse and share photos in full resolution.
  4. Mobile apps. There’s a Flickr app for the iPhone and Google Play. I haven’t used the Google Play app, but the iPhone version features auto-upload, meaning every photo you shoot is sent to Flickr automatically (and set to private by default). It’s instant, hands-off backup.


Who you stay in touch with is another extremely important set of data. I use Apple’s iCloud for storing all of my contact information. Whenever I add, update, or organize information for a person or business, it’s backed up to Apple’s servers. (And shares that information with all of my Apple iCloud-connected devices.) When I get a new computer, I simply log in and it’s downloaded instantly. If you don’t use Mac products, you can have similar functionality with Google’s Gmail, Yahoo mail, and others.


Again, this is mission-critical data that can’t be lost. I can’t imagine the horror of having my calendar information deleted. Fortunately, I needn’t perform any data transfer dark magic because everything lives on Google Calendar. Google Calendar, or Gcal as I call it, works with my Mac and iPhone seamlessly. It’s super easy to share information with others and integrates with other apps that I love. Gcal works on all major operating systems.


There are several ways to keep almost every other kind of document off your computer and in the cloud. Dropbox is an obvious choice (this is what Erin uses). The company offers 2 GB of online storage for free, and more if you’re interested in paying for it. It works with Macs, Windows machines, iOS, Android and nearly any modern web browser. is another popular choice, with much the same functionality. I rely heavily on iCloud again here. Most of my writing is done in a Mac app called Byword, which will automatically upload any document I write to iCloud. When I set up my new computer, all I had to do was install Byword, launch it, sign in, and all of my documents were ready to go.

11 Comments for “Cloud storage makes new computer setup simple and organized”

  1. posted by barbara trumpinski-roberts on

    I have an issue with Flickr since it’s Yahoo. I don’t do anything else in Yahoo and, even though there is a Yahoo office here in town, I really don’t trust that Yahoo won’t just disappear.

    I HATE Google+ for pictures. I didn’t realize my pictures were being stored there automatically and panicked when I couldn’t find them. iCloud works for that, so far.

    My documents are split…I record everything for 1 organization in Google docs because I started there. The rest of the time I use Evernote. Love Evernote.

    It’s a PITA to have to remember where/what/how and what the *&%$! my password is for so many different locations and to deal with switching from Windows to iOS and back. Makes it hard to unclutter the brain.

    I love this blog…keep it up!

  2. posted by Eric on

    How can you completely ignore Microsoft’s offerings (OneDrive, etc.)? (aka Hotmail) will give you complete coverage for your calendar, email and contacts.

    OneDrive will give you 7GB of free storage to start, along with OneNote and Office Online (Word, Excel and PowerPoint). There are clients for all platforms – Windows, OS X, iOS and Android.

    If you’re running Windows 8 or Windows RT on a Surface, not only will your documents, contacts and calendar automatically sync to a new (or second, third, fourth or “n’th”) device, but your settings apps, application data etc. will sync too.

    Another arrow for your quiver.

  3. posted by Tammy on

    I am a google advocate from way back (even when they keep closing down services I love). Another option is a personal cloud – myCloud. We have a home network and a shared drive for music, video and pictures that we can also access anywhere via a web based desktop. I am still getting the hang of things there and I probably won’t give up my google drive anytime soon, but I like myCloud for it’s privacy and simplicity as well.

  4. posted by MJ Ray on

    Another shout out to personal clouds: for me, it’s ownCloud.

    And as for ” Privacy. It’s easy to determine who gets access to which photo.” Yeah, the NSA gets them all. Easy.

  5. posted by alfora on

    I hope this doesn’t sound too rude, but are you sure you did the “correct” thing all those years ago?

    “emailing stuff to myself” sounds like you’ve never heard of or used IMAP.

    “using a USB flash drive or connecting two computers with a cable” sounds like you’ve never had your computers connected to a network.

    Depending on your operating system you might have a Migration Assistent that copies your user’s directory from the old computer to the new one. You can copy the files manually of course. It will take a few hours (depending on your LAN) but you don’t have to sit and watch.

    You can also test if your backup is working (you do make backups, don’t you?) and just restore your data from the backup to the new computer.

    P.S.: Not everyone uses jpg for pictures. BTW, uploading EVERY picture you ever make is not a good way to unclutter your life, just saying…

  6. posted by Peter H on

    +1 for the OneDrive / Outlook suite. 7Gb free is easily the best of the bunch, with integration across all platforms.

    Add to your list bookmark synching via chrome (if you log in) and/or xmarks, and password synching via lastpass – both free on computers or paid if you want to add phone synching.

  7. posted by MikeG on

    It’s always a red flag when a commenter starts with…”not to be rude but…” Yep. You just were.
    I like and use all these options and a couple additional ones…file transporter is a personal cloud I use religiously to add off site backup to my workflow.
    iCloud is a huge huge part of my daily use and can’t wait to see what is next to make our lives easier…
    Also…as a techie from way back I also have emailed myself info or files and wired two computers together…sigh…those were the good ol’ days. 🙂

  8. posted by 3 Ring Binders on

    Cloud storage is definitely WAY more convenient than old-school 3 ring binders, but the only thing I really worry about [regarding cloud storage] is the safety of the information. I have had a really good experience with Dropbox so far, so I for sure like it… just hope nothing ever gets hacked!

  9. posted by David Caolo on

    I got a question about backing up information in Google Calendar. Here’s a tutorial from Google on exporting all of your calendar information:

    You could move the result to a local drive if you like.

  10. posted by Sarah on

    Sorry, but I no longer trust Google with *anything* – and I damn sure wouldn’t trust them with my calendar info!

    Google is simply way too intrusive. I’ve even stopped using Chrome as a browser. I realize “big brother” is all around us these days, but Google is much too enthusiastic about wanting to own my life. Just my 2 cents’ worth.

  11. posted by Will on

    There are actually some businesses out there that will help specifically with your data management

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