Part One of Computer Upgrade – Storage and the Cloud

Continuing from yesterday regarding my preparation and evaluation before upgrading my laptop, here is Part 1 – Storage and the Cloud.

The first thing I am considering before upgrading my laptop is storage.  How much space am I using now and how much space will I need going forward?
I started with this one because for me it is the easiest.

My current laptop has a 320 Gb hard drive.  Except for a few downloaded documents that were used temporarily, the hard drive space is occupied by the operating system and installed programs.  I still have 85% of the hard drive space available.

This is because about a year ago I made the decision to put as much of my family information “in the cloud” as I could.  So far this has worked great.

I store my family database in Dropbox.  I open my genealogy program on my laptop and the database file is opened from the local Dropbox folder. Since it is a hard-coded path on my hard drive there is no latency or issues with speed.
My genealogy program allows the program to be installed on a desktop and a laptop (as long as only one is used at a time), and I do have the software installed on my desktop as well.  Typically, I only work from my laptop. However, if I do use the program from my desktop and then later want to take my laptop and visit the library or another remote location, I do make sure all the files are synced before taking my laptop anywhere.  This is because I either may not have an internet connection to sync my database or a s-l-o-w connection that takes forever to sync.  Because I am diligent about this, I have never had an issue with unsynced data.

Another advantage of storing my database (and other files) in the cloud is that it gives me a couple additional backups.  I use Google Drive as a backup location for my most important files.  I physically copy anything I want to backup to my Google Drive service.
I have Dropbox and Google Drive installed on both my desktop and my laptop.  Therefore all my files stored in the cloud get copied to both computers.  I also generate a backup of my database directly from my genealogy software that I store both in the cloud and locally.  Finally, I have backups set up of my desktop and laptop (which includes those local cloud folders) to my WD My Drive Live Duo (set up with mirroring).  This makes me feel comfortable that I am pretty safe from disaster.  Granted, my desktop, laptop and external hard drive are in the same physical location but having the data also stored in two different clouds I think this is enough. Luckily I have never had to test this theory!! 
I have considered a commercial on-line backup but so far have not pulled the trigger.  I have been able to store everything in the free Dropbox and Google Drive clouds. I have earned extra storage through referrals and such and so far cloud storage space has not been an issue…and it is free.  At the point I outgrow the free storage I will pay for extra storage through at least one of the cloud services.

Lastly, I love having all my stuff in the cloud because I can access my genealogy documents from any computer, my iPhone and my iPad.  Although I cannot open my actual family database directly from the cloud remotely, I do use a couple different apps that allow me to see my family trees from anywhere.  I have found many times where this has been extremely helpful to have it all at my fingertips.

I have also been asked if I am scared about having all my stuff out there in the cloud.  Personally, I do not have that concern.  I figure that if my company is storing their data in the cloud, I should feel safe.  My company is very conscientious about security and storage of data.  So when they rolled out Google services to replace email and much of the server storage, I figured it was worth a look to store my personal stuff that way too.

Since I love having everything on-line and I don’t have terabytes of stuff, hardware storage is not as much of a priority for me.  I think I can probably get away with most standard configurations as far as hard drive space (if I can control myself when configuring my new laptop) when I upgrade.

Stay tuned for Part Two – Organizing Electronic Files…

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