As earlier, in April we had a house-wide IT failure. In replacing my desktop I was faced with restoring all my documents, my old emails (PSTs) and reinstalling Microsoft Office. And I’d be left knowing that I’d have to do it all again at some point. Now I could have moved to Office 13, with everything in the Microsoft Cloud. But that costs and I’ve retired. Google is free. Friends of mine have been using Google Apps for years. I’d been using GMail, linked to Outlook, for years. And have I mentioned Google is free?
So, I took up my courage and resigned myself to taking a week to adjust. I’d misjudged the effort. I was over in about a day.
Now I do have a complete point-in-time copy of all my documents and emails stored in at least four places. I have a complete version of Office on an old Netbook running Windows 7, with all the data, just in case. It’s been over two months and I’ve not needed it.
Rather than tell you what I did, I shall link to articles from my subscription to Windows Secrets that will help. The real irony here is that these articles were published just after I’d moved. 😦
Now that all my data is in the Google cloud I can use it all from my Samsung smartphone. I can use it all from my Samsung Chromebook. Indeed, I can walk up to any connected device and do the same. I can share documents with other people without sending attachments. The key word here is “connected”. Away from the internet the offline applications aren’t very good. I have too many, and large, photographs to go into the cloud. I still need a PC, but it’s not my “go to” machine.
Inevitably there are a few gotchas:
- I’ve moved away from Internet Explorer for browsing onto Chrome. Chrome is, as you might expect, better at working with Google services. And it’s the only browser on a Chromebook. And, yes, I can’t recommend Chromebooks highly enough. Amongst my tech friends I was a laughing stack for using IE – but I liked it – and my password manager works with IE better than any other browser. But it was worth the sacrifice.
- One application that does give me pause is Roboform. I have about 500 passwords and Roboform manages them on my behalf. I’ve tried alternatives, but they struggled where Roboform sailed through. However, Roboform on a Chromebook isn’t all that wonderful. I will be thinking about alternatives at some time. (Chrome’s own native password management isn’t highly rated either.)
- I’ve only converted active documents to Google Drive apps – maybe a dozen. Some really complicated formatting had to be redone (15 minutes). I had one article with embedded emails; that didn’t convert at all well. In general, the conversion seems fine. But the time to test the conversion and convince yourself may be scarce. So I have a lot of unconverted old documents – and I’ve not looked at them in months or years either. My active ones are fine. I recommend you think the same way – move your old stuff to the cloud – but don’t convert it until, or if, you need to.
- Giving Google all my data isn’t without its own risks. Of course they’re going to mine it to push ads at me. If I pay nothing I accept advertisements. But what if they lost my data? Or what if the US government shut them or me down – Google’s cloud is subject to American law.
Once a month I backup all my Google data to my PC via Takeout.Now that I have my Synology NAS I ask it to mirror my Google cloud. Trust but verify.
I’m on Google. And I’m a convert.
Oh, and I’m still only using about 15% of my cloud allowance…
Oh, and do use two factor authentication. Yes, really. You’ll be darn hard to hack.
(Now if they’d just stay away from Jim Inhofe I’d be happier. More of that nonsense and I will find another cloud. Political snark over.)