Luckily, there is an easy solution: move your computer to the cloud we call the Internet.
All your data will be stored in the cloud, not on your personal computer on your desk. You will use a monitor, keyboard, and mouse on your desktop but will be connected to a computer that is in some distant data center. Your local computer simply serves as a gateway to the more powerful and secure distant computer. You won't even know where the remote computer is located and, in fact, there is no need to know.Anyone trying to steal your data will not realize you are using a cloud-based computer and will try to access the cloud-based computer. However, the remote computer isn't running Windows, is behind an industrial-strength firewall, and is managed by data professionals. While nothing is ever perfect, the odds of anyone accessing your personal data on a cloud-based computer are much, much smaller than accessing similar data on a free-standing Windows system.
icloud is a web service that provides its users with a virtual desktop. You first load a normal web browser in your Windows, Macintosh, or Linux system. You then go to http://www.icloud.com. After creating an account and signing in to it, your virtual desktop loads up.
Your new, cloud-based operating system operates within your web browser and is very similar to the desktop display of regular computers. You can store files in your icloud account and use the desktop interface to browse through files and use them.
[Click on any image to see a larger picture]As you can see from the image above, the files are organized and shown much like you are operating a physical computer. With the interface’s built-in apps you can play videos and music, view pictures, and browse files, all within the web browser. In other words, it operates almost identically to Windows or Macintosh computers.
icloud excels at email. The new virtual computer includes an email client that can access most any mail servers, including Gmail, AOL, and others. If you do not see your email provider on the list, you can manually add it as long as the mail server supports POP3 protocol. Ninety-nine percent of the mail servers can do just that. There is no need to obtain a new email address; icloud can retrieve messages from your existing email inbox.
You can then read and write your email with icloud. The big difference is that all files are stored on the cloud computer, not on your personal computer. Any attached files received that might contain viruses, keyloggers, Trojan horse programs, or other malware attack the cloud computer, which is impervious to such things. In other words, nothing happens. You and your personal computer do not get infected.
icloud also has many other applications, including built-in applications to play music, view pictures, hold online chats, and play videos. There are also word processing programs, spreadsheet programs, online calendars, an instant messenger, a money manager, RSS reader, Internet radio player, a Twitter widget, a calculator, a contact manager for names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses, and more are available with icloud. In addition, Google Docs, Zoho Docs, and other cloud-based applications are also available. While icloud has no built-in genealogy applications, you should be able to access any cloud-based genealogy application, such as New FamilySearch, The Next Generation, PhpGedView, WebTrees, FamilyTreeExplorer.com, WeRelate.org, and others.
icloud also provides 3 gigabytes of personal storage at no charge that is only for your own use and up to 100 gigabytes if you pay a modest fee. Wherever you go, as long as you have an Internet connection, you can access your files just as easily as you would at home. You can use any Windows, Mac, or Linux computer, as well as iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android or Windows Mobile phone to open your files. Your files are stored in icloud’s data center using state-of-the-art storage technology and daily backups. Your files will be safe and always accessible through any device that can connect to the Internet.
Of course, everything you store is safe and is isolated from everyone else by industrial-strength security. In fact, the files you store on icloud are probably more secure than storing them on your own computer's hard drive, where a hacker can gain access. Optionally, you can also share files by making them available on the web on icloud's servers. Access always remains under your control.
Users also can access their files on icloud from a device such as a mobile phone or a computer without using an Internet browser. Icloud Drive appears as a logical disk drive to your computer or handheld device. It allows you to upload, download, and handle files just as if you were using a USB memory stick or an external hard drive. The only difference is the files are stored on icloud's secure servers.
Currently icloud offers 3 gigabytes storage to its free users and 100 gigabytes storage to users who pay an annual $40 fee. Even more storage space is available for additional fees. The web storage service is a neat service to try and a great way to secure your important data.
icloud will appeal to people who do not own or do not use their own computers or perhaps do not have in-home Internet access. Such potential users include students, members of the military, residents of senior citizens' assisted living facilities, those who live in recreational vehicles (what the British call "caravaners"), or anyone who is traveling away from home for a few days or weeks. Just stop at any public library or Internet cafe and log on to icloud using someone else's computer. You will then have full access to a familiar desktop environment with all your files available immediately.
icloud also can be useful for those with too many computers: a laptop, a desktop at home, a desktop at the office, another computer at a seasonal home, etc. Place all your files on icloud and log onto the system from wherever you are, using whatever computer is available to you at the time. You will always be looking at the same files, the same desktop, and the same applications. Your email will always be available, regardless of which computer you are using.
This is free and safe computing with a consistent user interface, regardless of which computer you are using at the moment. I'd suggest that icloud is a great service for many people, although perhaps not all of us. I'd suggest that you experiment with the free version for a while before signing up for the paid version.
icloud is available now free of charge (for up to 3 gigabytes of storage) to all Windows, Macintosh, Linux, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android or Windows Mobile phone users at http://www.icloud.com
icloud claims to have 200,000 users in 170 countries. The service is available in 26 languages. You can learn more by watching a video (with horrible audio!) at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQgdceh66EQ or click on the image below.
You can find additional videos at http://www.icloud.com/en/demo