Oct 31, 2008

Save money using The Cloud

Cloud computing is the new Internet buzz-word.
Cloud Computing ensures storage scalability for data including pictures, movies, and video, while providing complete secure access from any computer in the world. If you’ve ever lost data because of a system crash, harddrive failure, or even realized that you’ve left important documents at home or the office, cloud can ensure that you won’t be in that bind again.

Office Software
Cloud computing can save you money by eliminating the need for you to purchase some software. A good example of this is with Microsoft Office. According to Microsoft, Office will cost you at minimum $149.95, or up to $679.95. You could upgrade for $239.95 to 539.95 (link).
Well, there are pirated versions … but why chance malicious code or viruses and more than that why steal and be subject to prosecution. Use the cloud! Google allows you to use most of the functionality of Office with Googledocs (link). Once you set up an account you can enable gears that will allow you access to the files locally. Most of the functionality here seems to be based on OpenOffice (link), originally developed by Sun. This software gives you free legal license to office software for word processing, spreadsheets, drawing, and databases on almost any platform.

Screen Capture
Now that you have basic office software and with google docs you can share your documents you might want even more office freebies. Well if you’re attempting to show things that are on your computer screen you may want to take screen captures. Of course you could use “alt-printscreen” on a PC or “Command-Shift-3” on a Macintosh, but using those built in utilities you may leave you with excess images such as your menu bar. Try Jing (link) from Techsmith. It’s nice, easy, and free. Go download it. This won't save you money, as the basic functionality exist on your machine, but you'll save lots of time.

Fax Software
Need to receive faxes but don’t have a fax machine? If you’re computer has a modem (that’s connected to phone line) you can probably use the software that can with your computer. But, what if you’re not connected to a phone line or even on the phone. Try efax. Efax (link) will give you a fax number that will receive faxes then forward them to you email. There’s a limit per month but it works very well. I’ve used it for years. You can send faxes either from your modem or use FaxZero (link). Again there’s a limit for free usage but it works well when someone cannot receive a file via email. This could save you on the cost of a seldom used fax machine and definitly the electricity used by the machine being on constantly.

Free Internet Access
Many free services require that you have Internet access. I carry my main machine, a laptop, with me most places and get free Internet access easily and freely quite often. Often there are open personal wireless networks with which one can connect. There are free wireless networks at most schools and universities. And almost every library across the U.S. has wireless access. Also here’s a list of free hotspots. Just remember to visit the site and save a document with locations before you need them.

Turning Any Computer Into Your Own
Have you ever been away from your computer and wanted access to you files? Well you could enable filesharing from your computer, use shared documents on googledocs, or try Desktop 2 (link). This software from Sun is like having a virtual computer. Files stored here are accessible from any computer with an internet connection. Once logged in, you have a desktop, similar to Windows or Macintosh OS, with all the files you use. Free access is always good.

Free Conference Calling
Do you want to get people communicating together for free? Try FreeConferenceCall.com (link). You should be able to save some money for your small or large business easily.

Free Entertainment
No need to pay for DVD rentals or purchases or even to go to the movies. Try SurfTheCannel (link).

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