Using Cloud Technology for Better Productivity and Efficiency

Posted by Mark Thompson - February 4, 2010 - Tools - 13 Comments

Usually I blog about SEO related topics, however I thought I would discuss something that is relevant to  anyone who wants to increase their productivity.  Now days, many people have more than one computer.  Usually you have a computer at work, a computer at home, and maybe even a laptop.  So do you really want to have to worry about which computer you were working on for a particular file? email? stored password? bookmark? note?

Well there is a solution called cloud technology that will allow you to sync all of your computers.  No matter which computer you are working on, you will be able to pick up where you left off on another computer.  Here are a bunch of free services you can use that leverage cloud computing and will help increase your productivity.

Gmail (E-mail)

Gmail is fantastic for aggregating all of your email accounts into one centralized location.  From there you can setup specific “Labels” that will allow you to organize emails from a certain address.  The most important aspect of Gmail is that it is web-based, so there is no need to worry about having Gmail software loaded on your computer.  You can access your mail from anywhere!

If you are not a fan of Gmail and you prefer something like Outlook, there is a neat Google Calendar Sync program that will sync your MS Outlook calendar with your Google Calendar.

Check out a great video from Matt Cutts who talks about all the neat features in Gmail Labs.

Dropbox (File Storage)

Dropbox is essentially a virtual hard drive that can be accessed from any computer with the internet.  Sign up for 2GB of free space or pay for a subscription and receive up to 100GB.  Add any file type or size and sync between Windows, Mac and Linux machines.  Whenever a file is edited on one of the synced computers it will automatically be updated on all other machines.  You can also use Dropbox as a virtual backup for all of your important files.

There are endless applications that you can use Dropbox for.  If you need to share files with someone, you can give them permissions to a specific file or folder.  This can be extremely helpful for collaboration efforts between team members or if you need feedback from a client.

Evernote (Notes)

For people who are always taking notes on sticky notes, note pads, and scrap pieces of paper, try Evernote.  This is your online notepad that will organize all of your thoughts and sync them across computers.  Add text, images, urls, videos, emails, and web pages, to your Evernote account and organize all of your content by searchable tags, keywords and titles.  Sign up for a free account which comes with 40MB of storage or get a premium account with 500MB of storage space.

LastPass (Passwords)

I have tried many password management tools to help me remember my hundreds of passwords, however my favorite has to be Lastpass. Sign up for a free account and install the browser extension which is compatible for firefox, chrome, or internet explorer.  Regardless of what computer you are on or what browser you are working with, you will have all of your up-to-date login and password information. For people that hate filling out long forms, Lastpass also comes with a form filler that allows you to manage multiple profiles depending on what form you are filling out.

Xmarks (Bookmarks)

A lifesaver for bookmark management, Xmarks will sync all of your computers with your latest bookmarks.  Simply sign up for a free account, add the browser extension and Xmarks will upload your bookmarks to your account on their server.  From there you can pull down your bookmarks to your other computers.

About the Author

Mark Thompson

Mark is the creator of StayOnSearch and president of Search Creatively, a full-service Internet Marketing Company located in Raleigh, North Carolina. He also contributes to many industry related blogs including Search Engine Journal and is active on Facebook and Twitter. Follow Mark on Twitter