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Series 4113 Number 9 Cloud Computing – What you need to know and what it can do for you *

Imagine not having to install software in order to write documents, program a website, prepare projects, create a PowerPoint presentation, prepare spreadsheets, conduct online meetings and backup your computer. Well, it’s here and for personal users, many software manufacturers are offering free versions of their programs. If you are not taking advantage of this new wave of technology, you are missing out.

Cloud computing is the next generation of computer innovation. Software applications will no longer have to be downloaded and you will no longer be plagued with complex security questions, lengthy updates, compatibility problems and program maintenance. All you need is a reliable browser, and all of your software applications will be at your fingertips. However, you should be using DSL, cable or a dedicated high-speed service.  

Many of these first generation programs are very useful. It is worth your time to familiarize yourself with some of these early arrivals.

Some great free cloud computing program resources:

Mozy- Best of the best – backing up your PCs.
2 GB for free! Every week 140,000 hard drives crash in the United States. Backing up data on CDs or external hard drives can eat up a lot of time, and you can only manage to do it every so often. There's still a chance that these storage devices can be lost, destroyed, or stolen. Get 2 GB of 100% free online backup for your photos, music and other files. No setup fee, no credit cards, no monthly payments or fees, and no hassle. If 2 GB just won't be enough, you can insure ALL of your files with MozyHome. Their low price stays the same even as your files grow! Mozy is 100% automatic. offers a full array of software that is free to personal users with a modest monthly charge for businesses. Their list of online programs includes document management, web-based e-mail, an online spreadsheet service, an online presentation tool, an online calendar application, online note taker, online planner/organizing tool, project management, online Wiki (with public, private and group permissions)**, online forums, web conferencing, instant messaging and group chat, centralized public repository to share files, on-demand customer relationship management (CRM), e-mail hosting, a document management calendar, a web applications creator, reporting and business intelligence, a human resources information system (HRIS), and an applicant tracking system for recruiters. 

** A wiki is a website that allows the easy creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG text editor.

Google docs –offers online free word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings and forms.

We have discussed the pros in using cloud computing but what about the cons. A recent episode occurred where Intuit’s cloud accounting software went down for two days while 300,000 customers sat idle. Obviously, Intuit did not have any independent backup program running that would have permitted their customers seamless accounting while they repaired their primary server. This was a good lesson for all cloud computing software manufacturers. It is obvious that manufactuers will have to take steps never to have an interruption in services and ensure the reliability of their customers' data.

The bottom line is that cloud computing is becoming a permanent fixture, bringing down the cost of software applications and reducing the amount of headaches for users in installing and maintaining their software programs.

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* For readability, this is a gender-unique document.