We’ve all heard IT bods talk about the Cloud like it’s some kind of mythical, mystical place … but what exactly is the Cloud when it comes to computers?
Well, first of all, it’s nothing to do with clouds. It’s a generic term to talk about something far more down to earth – in short, computer services.
The Cloud means your data, photo, videos – anything computer-related – can be stored on remote servers away from your office, rather than on a server or computer in the corner of the office. And by remote we don’t mean Siberia or Outer Mongolia. The servers could be anywhere from Glasgow to Southampton. They’re just remote from where you are.
This means you don’t have to store masses of data (photos, videos … are you starting to get the picture?) on your computer – so if your PC is hacked, stolen, lost or accidentally dropped in the bath, it won’t be the last you’ll see of it. Usually, if it’s in the Cloud, it’s all backed up remotely for you.
What is Microsoft Office 365 and why it’s so ‘Cloudy’
Everyone (well, nearly everyone) in business will have heard of GSuite, or Microsoft Office 365. They allow you to access your e-mails, files and make team video-calls and meetings from any location – on any web browser. It means you can access all these programs from anywhere, and on any device – so long as they’re online.
It means you and colleagues can write into a Word document or Excel spreadsheet from the garden. You can communicate instantly on Teams. It’s basically the office on the internet.
It’s secure with lots of neat security measures (including two-factor text-message authentication) in place to keep out the bad guys (i.e hackers). Office 365 is protected by anti-malware measures, which susses out any potential threats quickly and blocks them.
Remote communication with customers and staff has never been more important than in these pandemic times, and Office 365 means you can use Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business to hold conference calls and meetings with people anywhere in the world at any time.
With Microsoft Teams, you can message colleagues, and they can add their own comments immediately, and even upload files so several people can work on the same document at the same time.
It’s nice to share … and you can do that to your heart’s content with Office 365 through sharing mailboxes, calendars, contacts and documents instantly. By sharing calendars, you can see who is working and when – helping you to set up meetings (and they can’t wheedle out of them) without having to email everyone first and wait for their replies.
Sharing mailboxes means you’re less likely to miss that all-important email from the customer wanting to spend a fortune on your products.
SharePoint and OneDrive means anyone can work on a document – several people can be editing it at the same time – and then share it as a link by email. Little coloured flags identify each user so you know just who is responsible for all those spelling mistakes.
An alternative to Microsoft Office 365 is Google Workspace (which used to be called ‘GSuite’), and goes head-to-head with 365.
Price-wise or feature-wise there is not much between them, and each offers a range of packages. It’s probably best to go with the one that has the programs (i.e. Word/Excel) you’re most used to working on and Urban IT Support can advise you on which is best for your business.
Benefits of The Cloud
Think of the Cloud as the ultimate insurance policy should you be unfortunate enough to suffer a disaster.
No matter what happens at your office – a flood, fire or burglary – all your files, emails and data are safe.
You can easily and quickly recover them from the Cloud – rather than sitting there with your head in your hands!
Upgrades are done automatically so you’ll always have the latest version.
So there you have it, a quick look into what the Cloud is all about – and for more advice, contact our Halifax team at [email protected], or by phoning 01422 646465.
* Blog written by copywriter, blogger and journalist Andy Hirst from Huddersfield-based AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/)