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Cloud-Based File Synchronization Services

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by Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

These days “the cloud,” like so many other technologies, has made our lives significantly easier. While most have probably heard the term, there is still a lot of confusion about what it is and how we can use it. Without getting overly technical, cloud computing, or simply the cloud, refers to a collection of hardware and software resources that are delivered as a service over a network, usually the Internet. Chances are you are already using some form of cloud computing, especially if you have an email account with a Web-based service such as Yahoo! or Gmail. In these cases, you don’t have email software installed on your computer. Instead, you log into your email account remotely, with the requisite software and storage residing on the service’s computer cloud.

In surveys conducted in our weekly CI Emails, many of our readers use multiple platforms to access email, the Web and files: computers, tablets, smartphones, etc. While I am more the exception than the rule, on any given day you can find me working away on any of my two desktop PCs, two notebook computers, three tablets and my iPhone. It used to be if I wanted to work with an electronic file, say a Word document or Excel spreadsheet, I would copy the latest version to a USB thumb drive and copy it to whichever system I was using at the time or I would email copies to myself. The problem with that was I ran the risk of not having the most recent version of the file. On many occasions I had to revise a file to incorporate changes I had made on different versions of it.

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