Keep Your Pictures in Multi-Device World

With mobile-phone cameras getting better and better, it’s easy to click away and then download your pictures to a computer. And when you max out your phone’s storage, it’s easy to delete them from your phone and click away some more. Just one problem: if your phone and computer are synched, you could delete the files from your computer, too.

The problem came up when an employee of one of our clients told about her daughter losing pictures she thought she had saved on her Mac. The daughter had been in Europe for a study-abroad program, and she traveled after school ended. Lots of kids do it, and lots of kids have iPhones and computers.

Naturally, as her phone’s storage filled up with photos, our traveler decided to download them onto her Mac. Just about all of us who travel with a computer do the same thing so that we can keep on clicking away. You never know when you’ll get back to a travel destination, and you want to collect all the memories you can; you can sort them out later.

That’s what our young traveler was told to do. With the magic of wireless connections, she was able to sync her phone and computer so she could save her pictures to her hard drive. With pictures safely stored on the computer’s hard drive, it was a simple matter to delete the photos from the phone and free up space for new pictures.

However, there was a catch. The way her sync was set up, deleting from one device deleted from the other. So, when she came home and sat down to share her pictures, they weren’t there. But they were somewhere. Using Mac’s time machine, we were able to find previous back up files, and we were able to send the computer to Apple. Their technicians were able to recover the pictures, but it took a while for them to get all the pictures, and it was a very stressful time for our student.

Here are some steps you can take to avoid the problem:

  • If you have an iPhone, you can set your phone to store photos in an iCloud photo library and keep them there when you delete files from the phone. If your phone senses a Wi-Fi network, it will upload the photos automatically.
  • You can optimize your storage so that you can leave a thumbnail of your photo on your phone. Then, you can use the thumbnail to identify photos you want to retrieve.
  • If you are traveling with your computer, download the photos manually and turn off any synchronization that deletes files from your phone and computer at the same time.

I download photos all the time from my SLR camera, but it uses SD cards. I can get some redundancy by downloading the pictures to the computer and keeping all the images on the SD cards. I can also upload them to the cloud. When you add up all the costs of a vacation, this is a relatively small expense.

More and more point-and-shoot cameras have SD cards, too. But if you’re using your cell phone or an older camera with fewer features, you’ll have limited options. If you or any family members are getting ready to travel, we can help you make sure your gear is all set up to keep your photo and video memories safe and secure. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to get set up.

Which cloud-storage service is right for you?

Cloud storage gives you 24/7 access to your documents, photos, music, and you can access them wherever you are and on whatever device you’re using. It also makes sharing photos, videos, and documents easy. Even better, a number of services are free. Here’s the scoop on four of the biggest cloud services:

Apple iCloud: Best for Apple users. Apple iCloud is built into many Apple apps, including Keynote, Pages, and Numbers. You can start writing a to-do list in Notes on your iPad, for example, and finish it later on your iPhone. iCloud also syncs your e-mail, contacts, and calendar on whichever Apple gadget (or Windows PC) you’re using.

Other cool ways iCloud automatically syncs your stuff across all of your Apple devices: Snap a shot with your iPhone, and you’ll find it on your Mac. Buy a song on iTunes on your desktop, and it downloads to your iPod Touch. Bookmark a site on Safari on one device, and it updates your bookmarks list on all of your gadgets. 5GB of storage is free; you can add more starting at $20 a year for 10GB.

Dropbox: Best for sharing files. Store and sync documents, photos, videos, and other files on your computer, tablet, or smart phone, then invite others to download. Just be aware that your allotted free storage includes data others share with you, so clean out your folder periodically and ask people who have shared their folders with you to remove them from your account. 2GB is free; add 100GB for $99 a year.

Google Drive: Best for collaborating in real time. Two things distinguish Google Drive from iCloud and Dropbox; first, you get the tools you need to create presentations, documents, spreadsheets, and drawings right from Google Drive. And once you create a file, you can not only share it with someone else, but you can also work collaboratively on it. When you make a change, the person you’re sharing with sees it right away.

It works well for work but has handy personal uses, too. For example, you and your siblings can work together on an anniversary-party invite for your parents, even if you live miles apart. Whenever your device goes online, Google Drive automatically syncs the latest versions of all of your documents. 5GB is free; add 25GB for $2.50 a month.

Microsoft SkyDrive: Best for Windows fans. It’s a no-brainer for Microsoft users, but SkyDrive has another big upside: It’s the best deal of these services. You can collaborate on projects and edit documents with free online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. SkyDrive works on computers using Windows 8 (including Surface tablets), 7, and Vista, and Mac OS X Lion. You get 7GB free; add 20GB for $10 a year.

Some final advice: Always be familiar with your chosen service’s policies. And never use a cloud service as the only storage for files you can’t afford to lose. Your best option for backing up everything on your computer is still an external hard drive.

This story originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of ShopSmart magazine.

Office 365 Coming to Your Home

We’ve always been proponents of cloud-based computing. You can keep your applications up to date and your data secure – and pricing has always been good for businesses. Now, Microsoft is about to make cloud computing more accessible for home and small-business users with Office 365 Home Premium and Small Business Premium.

According to a recent post by Microsoft, a single subscription to Office 365 Home Premium covers up to five users, essentially an entire household.  Each user can each sign-in with an individual Microsoft account with its own settings, and all users can access their own documents. Each subscription includes:

  • All Office applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, and Publisher. (However, only PCs can use OneNote, Publisher and Access.)
  • The ability to use Office on PCs or Macs – a real benefit for multi-platform households that will no longer need to buy separate versions
  • Nearly 3 times the amount of SkyDrive storage with an additional 20GB over the 7GB you get for free.
  • 60 minutes of SkypeTM world calling per month – but restrictions apply

Microsoft is also offering the new Office 365 Small Business Premium for organizations with 1-10 users. Each gets:

  • All the Office applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, and Publisher plus Lync. (Again, however, only PCs can use OneNote, Publisher and Access.)
  • The ability to use Office on up to five PCs or Macs for a single user. Users also have flexibility to change their five devices at any time, and full featured Office applications are available for temporary use on any PC.
  • A 25 GB Outlook mailbox, shared calendar, contact manager, scheduling and task-list tools, and 10 GB professional-grade cloud storage for the organization plus 500 MB per user.
  • The ability to host online meetings with audio and video using one-click screen sharing and HD video conferencing (HD video camera required)
  • The ability to set up, build, and maintain a public-facing website with no additional hosting fees.

Premium licenses are regularly updated, giving you the latest features and services.  A free 30-day trial will be available online for both packages. The Home Premium package is $99.99 per year, and the Small Business Premium package is $149.99 per year.

We can answer any questions you have about the new online Office 365 packages and help you will installations and configurations. We believe it’s a smart way to go for better cost-efficiency and for keeping your systems up to date and secure. Call us at 973-433-6676 or drop us an email to discuss it.

This article was published in Technology Update, the monthly newsletter from Sterling Rose LLC.