Working in the Cloud

Ready to work with your head in the clouds? Cloud computing isn’t a new fad. It’s been used in the corporate world for many years and smaller firms caught on in 2006, with the proliferation of laptop computers and the mobile workforce.

cloud-2Cloud computing lets you access your data from any web-enabled computer, and for a small fee, use the software of your choice. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars for an upgrade to Office or  Adobe products, you can cut expenses for software licenses and  tech support.

You’re already working with cloud software when you use Gmail, Google Docs, Shutterfly and hundreds of other programs. If you use an online backup program, you’re backing up to the cloud. Mozy Stash gives you 2 GB of free backup storage in the cloud and iDrive offers 5 GB backup storage space for free.

Benefits of cloud computing

  • No need to purchase software licenses or update software
  • No need for a powerful, fast computer with large disk space
  • No more worry about backups and virus/spyware problems
  • No need to pay for tech support if your computer crashes the day before a client presentation
  • With data stored remotely, you can work from home, on the road or collaborate on projects with others.

Start working in the cloud for free, with these well-known options:

Google Docs
Google Docs for word processing, presentations, spreadsheets. It also offers loads of templates, forms and drawing tools.

Software developer Oracle Corporation now owns OpenOffice, the free equivalent of Microsoft Office that’s been around for a few years.

Microsoft Office Web
Microsoft’s Office Web is a browser-based version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, for a fee of 5 cents to 96 cents per hour for small users, paid monthly.

Adobe recently launched Creative Cloud, for sharing tablet applications and allowing people to share creative services with software including InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. Prices start at $49.99/month, instead of thousands of dollars to purchase the software.

Head for the cloud
There is an inherent risk in storing all your data in the cloud. We take this risk every day with any online service, including banking, email and web browsing. Short of an electric power outage, cloud computing has real benefits for freelancers. Sound good? Sign up for a test run and enjoy the freedom of having your software maintained and updated with no hassles.

BIO: Helen Gallagher joined to share her thoughts on small business and technology. Her blogs and books are accessible through Address questions to