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Up In The Cloud: Does Your Cloud Drive Do More Than You Think?
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Up In The Cloud: Does Your Cloud Drive Do More Than You Think? - Executive Leadership Articles

Up In The Cloud: Does Your Cloud Drive Do More Than You Think?

Executive Leadership Articles

Up In The Cloud: Does Your Cloud Drive Do More Than You Think?

The main characters in the TV series Silicon Valley develop a music search engine that nobody’s interested in. However, one piece of their code is an algorithm that compresses files with no loss of quality, and the Valley’s Google-like and Apple-like companies climb over each other for a piece of that action. Everyone’s excited about businesses and consumers maximizing cloud storage space without sacrificing the richness of their experience: songs or videos can “losslessly” stream right from the cloud with minimal data usage, for example, but possibilities seem endless.

As we explored a year ago, most of our consumer cloud services are compatible with third-party apps as well as in-house apps for dealing with cloud-stored files. You can grant access to a third party, web-based audio editor, for example, and record a podcast from your laptop, saving the data right to your cloud drive, rather than locally on your computer. Or you can edit and save a PDF, create greeting cards with photos in your cloud drive, or edit and share video. So a lot of what was proposed in season one of Silicon Valley is already a reality.

The drawback for these apps, however, is that they are an inserted layer of functionality between you and your data, something that works but is not as satisfying as working right in your cloud drive. Collaborating on a shared file in Google Docs, for example, is seamless compared to opening a third-party app, loading the file from your cloud drive, and then making sure all collaborators can access it for real-time editing.

The major consumer cloud services have already had some of this built-in functionality for years. You can view photos right in the cloud for Google Drive, MS OneNote, and Dropbox. But the services have added other on-board functions to enhance the cloud experience. All three of these cloud drives will play music files with just a double-click on the filename. OneNote opens a new tab in your browser, launching its Groove music manager to show you all your cloud-stored music, while Dropbox and Google Drive each play the file right in the drive interface.

Most impressive is the way Dropbox and Google Drive also play video files (in certain formats). This functionality is a lot more useful than it might first appear. Video takes up a lot of space on phones, but having mobile access to all your work wherever you are is great, especially if you automatically back your files up to one of the cloud drives. Sure, the social media platforms are essentially a place to store video as well, but that’s publicly shared video. Now you can show you colleagues what they missed at last week’s meeting, or you can show your cousin what happened at last week’s family reunion without publishing anything or keeping it on your phone, either from your app or by sharing the file from the drive.

Word processing documents, spreadsheets, slide decks, photos, video, and music—they can all be opened and (in some cases) edited right in your cloud drive, as predicted by Silicon Valley, although the lossless compression aspect is not quite with us. It’s worth pointing out that most multimedia files we use are compressed in a lossy format anyway—how many of us have our digital music libraries completely in a lossless .wav format? If your music is saved in .mp3 format, it’s already lossy, as is your photo collection in .jpg format. If those formats are good enough, which they are for most of our uses, a certain amount of lossiness in exchange for file size compression is already part of our mobile lifestyles.

If you’re only using your cloud storage as backup for your data, you may find some time- and space-saving functionality in the drives themselves. Get to know what’s going on with your drive and see how it might be the solution to some of your ongoing storage and consumption problems.


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Up In The Cloud: Does Your Cloud Drive Do More Than You Think? - Executive Leadership Articles

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