Cloud Storage what is it and how can I use it?

Data backup, one of the most disliked and often ignored job.  Very few actually back up the data on their Home Computers or Laptops. According to a survey by, 91% of PC users agree that backing up your home computer data is important.  However, 41% do no backups at all and only 2% backup at once a week or less!

Why should you backup your data?  Think of all the irreplaceable pictures and videos you have stored on your computer, tablet or phone.  It’s sad to recall the number of people I’ve dealt with who have suffered a malfunction on their tablet or laptop that resulted in the loss of very important pictures.

What exactly is “the Cloud” and what is Cloud Storage?  Well,  “The Cloud” is the Internet so, simply stated, you’re storing data on the Internet.  Use the cloud to store all of your pictures, music, and documents.  Then you can access that information from any web/cloud-enabled device you have.  Home Computer, iPhone, Tables, and even a Smart TV can access your Cloud Storage files.
There are many companies that provide Cloud Storage Services.  Most provide software for your computer which will back up the important files on your hard drive.  This backup process captures all the important files on your hard drive; settings, bookmarks, preferences as well as documents, pictures, and music files.  Carbonite and Mosy are two examples of online backup companies.

Other companies have applications that will allow your computer, tablet or smartphone to sync data to the Cloud.  Syncing is a process where the files in a specific folder on your device are duplicated online.  Once duplicated, any other device you have enabled to access the data will also duplicate the files on itself. So using this syncing method you could share your files between your desktop, laptop, tablet, and smartphone.  Dropbox, Unbuntu One and iCloud are examples of companies that synchronize your files between devices.

For those folks who simply want a “set it and forget it” backup, companies like Mosey will be the better choice.  However, I’d recommend the file sync solution.  It allows for a bit more flexibility in your backup process. Additionally, more and more tablets and phone apps are utilizing programs like Dropbox to move data between
devices.  For example, your checkbook app might write your latest transaction on a Dropbox folder where your desktop application can find and import the data.

Here is a Wikipedia page that compares many of the different cloud backup services.

Further Cloud Storage reading

Over at Whitson Gordon has an article that provides some examples of what you can do with Dropbox.

UPDATE 2013-Jun-27:
With all the new cloud storage services now being offered many people have more than one.  These can include Dropbox, Google Drive, Ubuntu One or even Picassa or Flickr.   Paul Salmon over at Technically Easy has a great article on software used to combine all of these services and many others.  Click over here and read.