February 27, 2012

Backup up your data - the modern way using the data cloud

Caring for your most precious should not be taken lightly! Everyone not living in a cave has sometime lost important data and consequentially had their days of remorse and pulled hairs. Classically, a laptop with years of work is stolen or a hard drive with invaluable personal photo albums crashes unexpectedly. As in the flight industry, human errors are your biggest threat - more than once I have accidentally deleted precious files.

Our data is our life-collection of work and memories and as the days of pen and paper are being replaced by electronic data it is becoming the one most important property to hold account of. As 9/11 showed us, corporations survived huge losses of business documents but there is nothing to replace your years of email correspondence or personal photo albums. Not only is it an emotional loss but it will set you back by months as you try to pick up pace again after losing all your office data. Just the thought of losing my calendar data gives me the chill - loosing track of planned meetings and events for the next week would render me butt-naked!

Backup is no more

The traditional way of backing up data is to copy to other medias such as CDs, DVDs or external hard drives. This is how it all started before the Internet came and cloud-technologies and we were happy just to have a second copy of our data in case of disaster. There are many drawbacks with this old approach such as:

  • No media is safe when put up against time: DVDs and even high quality hard drives have an industry accepted failure rate of 1% meaning that your data will in time corrode.
  • Modern data includes huge media files; high quality photos and videos and we are adding up more files every day. A DVD counts 4,5gbs - barely enough to hold 1.000 high quality photos. USB memory sticks are the modern DVDs and might be safer storage medias but they will also fail on you eventually.
  • External hard drives are growing bigger every year but you want to store them far away from your desktop to ensure maximal security or they could easily take collateral damage if your desktop is hit. It might be a virus, hacker intrusion, water damage, fire... you have to place it far away, preferably at a friends house.
  • As you are every day creating more data you will have to manually grab that hard drive, connect it and backup the new files, a process easily forgotten or just ignored in the long run.
  • Eventually you will edit some old photo or document previously created and suddenly you have obsolete files on your backup hard drive. Unless you have a list of which files are updated since last backup you will have to backup your whole data collection. Or you could use software that does incremental backups but still, you will have to connect your backup drive to make it work. And know the inside and out of your software to be certain no mistakes are done.

The data-cloud is changing it all

There are plenty of problems with traditional backups but one emerging technology has the potential to relief your headache for once and for all... the data cloud. It's about moving your data from your local hard drive to online servers, virtually locked in databases which only you have access to. With the cloud, your data is available wherever you go.

Dropbox is by now know by everyone and is one of the first examples of cloud-computing and replaced many USB memory sticks, symbolizing the old approach of moving data around, between different computers. Dropbox is now loosing ground again and the reason is the lack of an interface to work with the files it stores. The amazing developments of web-technologies (such as HTML5) is moving the power from local to online software, thus the term "web-applications". Google Docs exemplifies this trend; not only can you store whatever document on it's servers but you can also work with the data (e.g. work with 'word' documents or 'powerpoint' presentations) online and even shared with closed or open group of friends and colleges. Combine these features and you have "collaborative editing" where one or many can simultaneously work with the same document in real-time without worrying about multiple versions being emailed back and forth. I have previously written about the "online office" concept which is based on this development exactly and is the sole reason for my boosted productivity despite much more information to take care of.
So... not only do you need an online host for your data (there are now too many out there to keep count of and new services being born every day) but also you need front-ends to work with your data. One service for your office documents, one for your photos, another for music, yet another for videos... Now that's a lot of accounts and passwords to keep track of and add to that, you will have to have 100% trust in each and every service since they're literally taking care of your electronic life. We need simple solutions, preferably one key to all keyholes. And now the good news: this is indeed possible and that is exactly I am going to teach you in the rest of this post.

If you insist the old way

Only five years ago I would have told you a completely different story since there was no cloud then. I used to have a huge hard drive storing my most precious memories and had a clever software solution to synchronize my backup sets. In the end though, I was totally lost  as some weeks my photo collection would grow by gigabytes and I accepted the fact that relocating my backup-drive between various physical locations  even once a month was an impossible task to do. I tried USB sticks to make it a little easier but it was the same, I gave up. I installed an online Linux server in a safe location in my house and setup automatic and synchronized file transfers but felt highly vulnerable to catastrophes such as theft, fire or water leaks. I had just started considering using a friends' online server and synchronizing backups over FTP connection when Dropbox arrived, the rest you know.

Today, all my important documents are in the cloud and my hard drive is empty besides some downloaded podcasts and vodcasts which are easily replaceable. Going online is a point of no return after which you will sleep free of all worries about loosing your data.

Going online

Now this might be the point were some might be skeptic so I would like to remind you that there are many alternatives out there but through years of experimenting I have found the Google applications to fit my preferences the best, please check my special Google post if you have doubts.

Besides a few special applications (Pixlr and Crocodoc, that's all!) I am using the Google services for all my data. They're free, I trust Google and I am very satisfied with working their applications. The true power lies in having only one account (password) to take care of.

Introducing Google Drive (previously Docs)

To most people, Google Docs (GD) is a simple, online document editor with sharing and collaboration functions. The Google Apps have a common 1 gigabyte pool for your data and you can easily add more storage like $5 for 20gb/year (which is cheap, compared to other services).
Uploading my vodcasts to Google Drive What many do not know is that GD actually allows you to upload whatever document type you wish, be it a 500mb video file, your mp3 collection or zip/rar archive to name a few examples. It literally stores whatever you throw at it (you can even upload a zip file and GD will allow you to browse it just as any folder). If you have Chrome you can even drag your files or folders to Google Docs and it takes care of the rest.

As your heap of files grow by thousands it becomes essential to organize them and GD's tagging features makes this a breeze. You can of course search your collection both from top-level or inside a tag ('folders' are known as 'collections' in GD), this way you can never loose a file in your online data-heap.
My ABG document, shared with colleges Sharing is GD's pride; every file (or collection) can be shared with one or many of your friends or even as a link to the whole Internet if you like. This way I upload my home-videos to a special folder (collection) and then send the link to my family who can either view them from there or download to their own computer (GD allows you to disable downloading if you only want files to be streamed).

Editable documents can not only be viewed but edited and while you share a document you can specify what restrictions each user has. The ABG document is private to the Internet but could also be shared openly so that anyone having the link can view or edit if I decide so.

Now this is technology we are used to these days but what makes GD unique is that the organizing and sharing functions apply to all files (and collections).

For most purposes, uploading through the web-browser is just fine but it doesn't quite meet my wish for synchronizing cloud based files with those stored locally on my hard drive (the Dropbox way). Google's highly anticipated Gdrive, rumored to be out early 2012, will change all this and provide the final functionality needed for a fully equipped online hard-drive.

Despite most software now being available through the Google Apps suite there are still some missing, requiring you to have your files on your computer for locally installed software. Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Access files are some examples. Except for image/photo editors, online multimedia editors are still in their infancy and need local software. Downloading and uploading files back after edit is cumbersome, expect GDrive to fill this gap.

What GDrive will bring is is currently unknown but for basic backup purposes, Google Docs serves it's purpose quite well. If you wish for extended features and even editing you should consider alternative services and I will now finish this post with specific details on where to store the three multimedia types we commonly work with so that they are not only backed up but also easily viewed and manipulated.


What makes photos unique is that you want to organize them by years, themes and even people. Picasa used to be a standalone service but was bought by Google and as such is part of their application suite. Picasa is both a great local software for working with your photos but also an online front-end, the web-Picasa. Picasa can easily upload your photos to your online storage and smartly processes the uploaded images and always keeps a copy of the original photo file - the essential feature making it a backup tool.

Picasa uses the common, above mentioned, 1GB storage pool but it doesn’t count images up to 800x800 pixels or videos <15 minutes in length. If you sign up for Google+ the photo limit goes up to 2048x2048 pixels. This has important implications; if your camera is set to store high quality photos, you will most likely have bigger sized photos and thus meet quota limitations.

My family album now counts about 250 gigabytes after 15 years of photographing digitally and most of the images are bigger than 2048x2048. Despite Google space being cheaper than most competitors I am not sure I am willing to pay $100 annually for the 400gb storage pool required for this massive amount of data even though it is probably the most secure way of keeping my digital memories away from unforeseen catastrophes, even though prices will most likely go down in the future. At least until having the synchronizing feature of GDrive, as a temporary solution, I will stick to old fashioned external hard drive backups here. In the meantime, I keep the newest (not HD backed up) files secure on my Dropbox account.

Finally, I find the web-based Picasa still a little clumsy (as opposed to the local software which is a 5 star product). It has all the features needed but it's user interface really needs to be modernized (it's been the same for years now), it's browsing and folder/collection features are ages behind Google Docs' approach. Until worked on, I am not ready to give all my digital memories to the online Picasa.

For other photos such as my collection of medical photos or saved images I use for my presentations, Picasa is my best friend - every single photo stored online for easy access and share functions.

Now all this is fine but what about advanced photo/image editing? Picasa is very very basic and you will not be able to do any photoshop effects with it. For this, you will either have to manipulate your files locally or you could try out before mentioned Pixlr. This is a gap in my backup plan - the files can only be stored on Google Docs for backup purposes; you will have to download and upload them to work with. Or you could sign up with Pixlr (for free) and use their online service. This should not be a problem unless you are editing your photos every day - in that case I suggest Dropbox and hope for GDrive to come anytime soon.

Videos and films

My video files are made up of home-videos and downloaded teaching modules such as vodcasts. The latter are for viewing purposes only and I like to be able to share them with colleges, perfect for storing in Google Docs.

Home videos are different. They are precious and must not be lost, ever. Also, I would like to be able to work with them locally, making special clips for family or friends. Now many would think that Youtube is an excellent backup service for these but that is a fallacy; Youtube does not keep the original files and you cannot get back your files in their original formats (as with Picasa). Youtube is a sharing service, videos are played as streams. Even more, you are not guaranteed that your uploaded videos will stay forever. Youtube is strict about copyrights and can anytime erase your video if it has any violations (copyright background music might be enough to trigger the deleting machine) and if violated several times might risk your whole account.

This is very important:Youtube is NOT a backup service!! So what to do?

As said above, Picasa accepts video files as well as photos - voila! Even better - you have free unlimited storage for videos <15mins which should suite most of your home videos. Actually, as Picasa works with photos and short-videos in exactly the same way, I treat my home-videos the same. So again, waiting for GDrive and Picasa update but that's where I'm heading!
Finally, Youtube is not all bad. Actually, it is a great service for putting my edited clips online to share with the world. Youtube has some basic editing functions, enough for most of my needs for home-videos.

Music and audio files

All my podcasts and music in one place First of all, your mp3 (music) collection can easily be stored within Google Music which allows you to store 20.000 music files for free. Not only have I uploaded my music collection but also do I put my downloaded podcasts to Google Music so that I can listen to them from my mobile when I'm out jogging. After putting some work into tagging the podcast files, my collection is now easily browsed by authors, topics, production year etc.
Google Music provides a small software to install on your computer which then takes care of seamlessly uploading your collection.

Currently a podcast subscription feature is very much needed on Google Music (iTunes style), in the meantime I subscribe to them with RSS Reader, download files locally, tag and upload via GM's uploader tool. A little more work but I worth it as my podcast collection is now so easily accessed wherever I go.

Finally - what about passwords?

Passwords are also precious. Even more precious as they are the keys to all our data. Keeping account of all passwords today is a true first world problem, especially now that we need to make them very complicated to defeat hackers and viruses threatening our online presence.

I have some of my less important passwords kept in a well hidden file in Google Docs - making them easily reachable wherever I am logged in or just from my Android phone. For those more important ones there is an excellent app for keeping them in an omnipresent but safe way. Check out my previous post about passwords and the importance of protecting your online data - now that you are uploading your electronic data to the cloud, you absolutely must know how to protect yourself from intrusion!

See also

Windows vs Linux story

You have been warned, although mostly emergency medicine related, my blog is also about IT. To the heart of my IT experience is converting from Windows to Linux, the best decision I have ever made.

I like collecting stories about why this is good. I've just read an interesting article from PC World where IT geek Tony in 30 days tries out one of the Linux flagships: Ubuntu. I will not go into his incomprehensible approach of installing it inside Windows and expecting to get a Windows clone which completely defeats the purpose of his experiment... But reading through the comments has revealed to me some very good Windows to Linux conversion success stories and learning points which I'd like to collect here.

Take home point: "... but the point should be clear. Microsoft effectively owns your Windows computer, while you own your Linux computer."

ricegf Mon Jun 06 06:55:52 PDT 2011

"@blamblam: What are some concrete examples of things that you cannot do with a Windows computer that you can do with a Linux machine

Excellent question. Though I'm not the original poster, I'm a libre software advocate based on hard-won experience, so I appreciate the opportunity to point out some practical implications for free vs proprietary software. I'll do so with first-hand anecdotes, and leave you to draw general conclusions.

I helped Mike (a friend), whose hard drive had crashed, to install a new one. When we reloaded Windows, the software refused to accept the 40 character authentication code (a pain not inflicted on Linux folk), deeming it invalid. We spent 30 minutes on the phone with 3 different people at Microsoft while they decided if we would be permitted to use the software he'd bought or would be required to purchase a new copy, since his machine might be considered "new" because of the replaced hard drive - the End User License Agreement (EULA) didn't define "new", leaving its interpretation at their discretion. In the end we were "permitted" to use the product for which he'd paid (via a new 40-character code), but this was the wake up call that caused me to begin my Linux transition.

I've received two physical letters from the Business Software Alliance (BSA) asserting their right to enter my home and "audit" our personal computers at their convenience to see if any of my applications are improperly licensed. They claim their members' EULAs grant them this right (the specific EULAs are not identified). I would certainly deny them access to my Linux computers, however, since they run no EULA-impaired software at all (the Gnu GPL is not a EULA).

I helped my daughter build a desktop, and purchased a retail copy of Windows XP so she could run certain games. After it was overrun by malware, we reloaded from CD - but the authentication code was rejected as "pirated". Unable to convince Microsoft that we'd purchased an original CD, unable to obtain a refund for an "opened product", and unwilling to continue buying new copies for the same hardware, we acquired a copy via different means to get the machine operating again (though it won't accept any non-security updates).

I have more stories, but the point should be clear. Microsoft effectively owns your Windows computer, while you own your Linux computer.

From another perspective, I'm able to upgrade any of my computers to the latest or any older version of Ubuntu, Fedora, Mint et. al. at any time, to share any of these systems and all of my apps freely with friends, and to run as many copies as I like in my virtual machine system (Windows most common EULA limits use to 3 copies total on the same hardware). I can run and publish benchmarks and comparisons (which was prohibited by Microsoft's EULA last time I checked). I also have confidence that the software isn't siphoning off information without my knowledge: I haven't checked personally, but independent people that I trust have - and have found that some proprietary software (not Windows) does indeed send personal info back to corporate headquarters without the user's knowledge or consent (instances occasionally pop up in the trade press, in case you follow it).

From a practical perspective, I've found Linux software to be generally better than Windows for my needs. New versions of Microsoft Office, for example, often require reformatting of complex documents while OpenOffice.org (which uses an ISO-standard file format) does not. Of course, we can (and do) use the same software on the Windows computers in the house, which illustrates another advantage of libre software - it typically has been ported to all systems! You can even find mainstream libre software on quite obscure systems such as Haiku and Plan 9, while many proprietary Windows apps won't even run on a Mac.

Speaking of apps, installation and maintenance (which is centralized through an "app store") is certainly far better under Ubuntu than any competitor I've tried (except perhaps the late unlamented Lindows) - Microsoft plans to address this at last with an app store for Windows 8. The Linux system is also far more useful out of the box (which you concede), and obviously is far less expensive to set up from a licensing perspective.

The biggest practical barriers to a Linux transition are for Photoshop users, those dependent on certain Windows-only vertical market apps, and for those with a large investment in DRMd media (Linux generally doesn't support DRM, since given source code DRM is trivial to defeat - though no DRM system has survived very long in the wild even on Windows).

Overall, my personal experience with proprietary software has been quite negative, because power corrupts and the BSA members seek near-absolute power over their customer's computing devices as the above anecdotes illustrate. My experience with libre software has been uniformly and overwhelmingly positive, and I'm far more productive - and certainly more free - than I was on Windows.

I speak only for me, your mileage may vary, but I hope this gives you some food for thought.

JoeAnotems5445 Wed Jun 29 05:53:34 PDT 2011

"The author missed the most important thing. With Ubuntu or Linux Mint, you don't use AV and you don't get infected. Microsoft gets infected with viruses, botnets and has many other security issues. Microsoft Windows cannot operate without AV, ever. Microsoft never had secure source code, and with millions of lines, it's unlikely they will go back and fix it. Linux has open source (freely available to anyone) source code and security is designed into every line. It's been that way since version 1 in 1991. Android is Linux.

I've used Linux for over 8 years without any AV and with absolutely no infections. Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu but has many extra codecs for playing Microsoft media and playing and recording DVD's - right after the install.

I've never seen the problems with arrogance from Linux users on the help posts the author mentions. If he is a Microsoft user, he is probably not familiar with the terminal commands that are commonly used when someone is trying to help. These commands have to be typed in exactly as described or they will not work. It can be frustrating and overpowering to a new user.

Also, Microsoft enjoys a large market share that has been developed over the years, even through some monopolistic practices.

Linux was never meant to be a copy cat of Windows. The authors' approach is to treat it like a Windows wanna-be. Remember, almost all Microsoft programs use a proprietary function called Active-X or Direct-X. Over the years, this has been responsible for a tremendous amount of security issues. Linux does not use Active-X. Neither does Firefox or Google Chrome. That's why they are becoming so popular, people are getting increased security using them with Windows instead of Internet Explorer.

Linux Mint is the #2 Linux OS in popularity. It's absolutely fantastic. I'm using the 64-bit version on a dual core HP with 2GB of ram. I have an ATI 2GB graphics card with a custom ATI driver meant for Linux. I use FireFox4 and Google Chrome 64-bit, both with Ad-Block Plus. I installed Google Earth, Google Picasa, TrueCrypt, FileZilla, K2B CD-DVD burner, Scribus publishing, Google DNS, Youtube-dl among others. Also, Mint comes with LibreOffice office suite that parallels Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint. It also comes with Gimp, which is a multi-layer photo editing program similar to Photoshop.

There are over 33,000 free applications that can be installed from a repository with a couple of clicks using the Software Manager. All you have to do is Google for the Linux equivalent of the Microsoft program you want, and you can usually find it. For example if you Google Microsoft Publisher, you get Scribus and Lynx, which can be installed for free.

For me, Linux installs in about 8 minutes with no product keys, WGA or DRM to contend with. I can't even imagine my family or I going back to any MS product. If you are a Windows user dealing with one or two computers, AV and infections seem to be manageable. If you're responsible for 20 or 30 computers, Linux requires virtually no maintenance and gives you your life back."


"Windows is a lot harder to install than Ubuntu. People usually don't care because it's preloaded on new computers (as well as bloatware).

I have to remove all the viruses/trojans from my Mom's windows computer everytime I go visit my family. I installed Ubuntu on her laptop so that she stops complaining about it being slow. She was doing fine after that.

Windows doesn't just work, or else I'd be still using it."

February 15, 2012

Gotta love these keyboard shortcuts - speed through Google search

I love fancy keyboard shortcuts. They help me keep my hands on the keyboard and just focus on writing. This is one just incredibly powerful every Googler should know of;

When you've entered a search term on Google search, instead of moving the mouse pointer back to the input field and type more to refine your search, you can just start typing and voila!

There's even more I didn't know of; pressing enter and then tab  selects the first result and you can move up and down through the results with up & down arrows.

Oh my oh my!

February 3, 2012

Why I Google

The Google applications are a core component of my online life and thus are mentioned a lot in my blogposts. Here I will explain why exactly so that you don't think that I am bought by Google!
You might also be interested in my rant about choosing the right technology platforms.
The Google Applications suite Most of you have used Google search and very likely Gmail but not everyone is aware that those two are just a small part of the bigger Google application suite, a plethora of powerful online tools for productivity and creativity. If Google Apps is new to you, I highly recommend this short introduction to this toolset which can seriously boost your productivity.


It is but fair to tell you that there are alternatives to Google Apps, indeed there are thousands of them but none that I know of that has the broad spectrum of application types as Google has. For Google Docs I could mention Zoho and Office 365, commonly compared to Google Docs. Remember The Milk is a nice todo-list application. To read about the others you could check this article.

Why Google apps?

Google Apps is a prime example of web-applications - they run from the browser and use the data-cloud, providing you with easy access to your data wherever you are and a fully automated backup. They are therefor the core component of my online, mobile office - as long as I have a decent web-browser running my office is up and running, ready to untap my productivity. I have previously written a post about web-applications and the data cloud and why you should seriously consider converting to these, here I will rationalize why Google Apps are my first choice.

Single login to all apps, all data in one place

All controls within reach of hand Sitting in the cockpit of a 747 is very much how I feel when I have logged into Google - I have all controls within the reach of my fingertips. With a single login account I have about 30 different applications before me and only one password to take care of. Even with only a few different web-apps, it would be a hazzle to login to every single one and major treshold to start working and getting things done.

Not only are the apps interconnected but so is their data. On the surface you will not notice it but under the hood all your data within the Google apps is pooled in a single database, just showing up differently within the different applications. This means that each and every application can access your different data pools, for example Blogger and Google Docs can easily grab photos from your Picasa account, your Gmail contacts are accessed with Google+ and vice versa. Seeing is believing - from Google's dashboard you can see how your data is stacked within the different apps.

All eggs in one basket?!

Now some will feel violated by privacy issues - the fact that a private company stores so much of your personal data and there are tons of articles and discussions wiggling this issue back and forwards. This is of course a double sided coin; there are indeed companies that will use your data to personalize your ads and some might even abuse your data but if you trust your company there is so much to gain. Consider for a moment how big Google is and that their existence relies on public opinion - they simply cannot afford violating your data in evil ways, one false move and they could go down the drain over a night. Besides, whether you like it or not, in Google's huge data-cloud, you are just an ID number and your data is handled by robots who don't give a damn about what you do or don't do, like or don't like, for them you're just a bunch of binary 1s and 0s! Some think that Google's employees have fun reading emails in the Gmail database, wake up - that's just as silly as claiming that doctors sit and read patient journals for fun. The times they are different indeed If you still feel insecure, I think you should consider leaving the Internet altogether and start using paper and pen again. This is the era of Web 2.0 tools where storing personal data online is the prerequisite for them to work. That is not unique for Google, it's just the way it is today. Google is well aware of these issues and provides you with an easy way to take out all your data if you should want to close down your account - Google takeout (also an excellent tool if you want to have an extra backup of your data on a local hard drive).

If you want a 3rd party solution there is Backupify. No need to worry!

Actually it makes me sleep better in the night to know that a corporation with pockets full of money and enormous muscle power is keeping my data safe. Should Google go bankrupt or be hijacked, your personal data is the least problem of all since that scenario would be a major event touching not only individuals but corporations, countries and even the whole world. You can be sure someone with greater interests will already be working on this before you even have had time to say "ouch"!

Google is also offline

Since the start of the Internet, downtimes have occured in all major services and Google is no exception but it is so rare and short that in effect you would barely have time to have a cup of coffee while it is being fixed.
A more likely scenario is that you are without Internet connection e.g. while flying or sitting on the train. This is yet another reason to choose Google Apps as they are very well aware of the possibility and have been eager to implement offline options to most of their applications. Their current technique is based on HTML5, an universal standard not likely to disappear over one night and since HTML5 support is growing even on smartphones, you will not have a problem with this on your Android or iPhone. Google Docs for example allows you to mark which documents should be available offline and they will be downloaded and synced automatically without you having to do anything but just enjoy.

Simplicity is power

Google in 1999 Ever since Google's search page appeared, simplicity has been Google's style. Wether it's Google Docs, Picasa or Blogger - everything is easy to setup and work with, yet providing the most important features needed. Thus the Google Apps are easy to learn and use, you can start working in minutes.

Constantly updated

Google is eager to provide you with the best tools and state of art technology. I have used Google Apps for almost five years now and the features have grown enormously. Almost every month something new is being added and I feel that Google is listening to their users, adding the features most requested. As web-browsers become better every year we can expect even better features in the future. On the Google OS blog you can follow all additions as they are being implemented.

Android integretation

It should not come to a surprise that the Android operating system has great support for the Google applications, they are after all the brains behind this great OS. With the Google Docs app for instance, it's easy to search, read and even edit your documents and recently offline support was added - this literally means that your online office is available whenever and wherever you go. A technology most would have though to be impossible only several years ago.

Totally free

Last but not least - the Google Apps are totally free, for up to 1gb of storage. Despite having every single document of mine and 10 years of emails there, I've still only used 25% of my quota. In time, I will upload my 50gb or so of photoalbums to Google's services for an online backup and I have no problems with paying $20/year for their 80gb additional storage, if you ask me - the price is ridiculously low, it's just a fraction of the price of a hard drive.

A success story for me

A few years ago I uploaded every single document from my hard drive to Google Docs. My laptop now has no hard-drive installed (runs much faster off a 4gb SD memory card with Linux installed), backup and working with different versions of the same document are a things of the past. With Google's Chrome installed on a USB chip I can start my office up from any computer in the hospital in just seconds and the IT department won't have anything to say about it since I'm not opening any security threats to their in-house network. With my Android I can easily access all my online data and I use it every day for better patient care and to steepen my learning curve in emergency medicine. I am a happy Googler.

Please check out my post about the online, mobile office if you wan't to know the details!

Finally - the disclosure

And now you should understand that my choice of Google for almost everything in my online life is not just a sentimental one, it is truly the one tool that helps me the most for my productivity and creativity. I have nothing to disclose; I have no affiliation in any way with Google or related services and my choice to use their tools tools is utterly my own and solely based on years of "trial and error" with various solutions. There was even an era in my life where I had almost grown roots into the flagships of Microsoft, Windows and Office - but I woke up one day and found out there were better ways to achieve my goals.

More on this topic

  • I've been Googled
    A blogger describes how Google grew on him from being a search engine only to his complete online Swiss army knife and why Google's applications are growing fast in the small/medium sized business world.
  • Google Privacy: 5 Things the Tech Giant Does With Your Data
    Mashable e-magazine explains in a user-friendly way what the Google privacy issues are really about. As it turns out, a lot of fuzz out of nothing...