Another Reason to Store Your Data in the Cloud

I broke my eyeglasses a few months ago. While loading a toolbox into the back of the car, my eyeglasses slipped off my face and landed on the concrete driveway. One lens shattered.

Luckily, I also have prescription sunglasses that happened to be in the front seat console of the auto. I put the sunglasses on and had full vision but I wouldn’t want to wear them around the house and especially not at night.

I should also mention that I was in Florida at the time but I purchased the glasses a bit more than a year earlier from a big-name optical franchise in Massachusetts. I drove to a local franchisee in Orlando of the same chain, hoping they would have my prescription on file in their computers and could make new glasses for me quickly. Alas, it was not that easy. It seems the local store’s computers could not access prescription information from another store.

A very helpful clerk suggested I call the office of the ophthalmologist that wrote the prescription and ask someone at that office to FAX the prescription to the local store. I had a better idea.

I remembered that I had taken a picture of the prescription within a few minutes after I received it last year, using my cell phone’s camera, and then had saved the picture in Dropbox. I also remembered that the picture had been very clear and the text of the prescription was easily readable in the picture. While still in the store in Florida, I pulled the cell phone out of my pocket, pressed the Dropbox icon, and retrieved the prescription from the Dropbox servers. A few seconds later, a crystal clear image of the prescription appeared on my cellphone screen.

Of course, an optician cannot easily make new glasses while looking at a prescription displayed on a tiny screen. I also did not have a printer with me. I asked the store clerk, “Does the store have an email address?” He said they did have email and gave me the address.

While still displaying the prescription on the screen, I pressed the “forward” icon in the lower left corner of the screen, pressed EMAIL, and then entered the email address of the store that the clerk had given me. I then pressed SEND. The clerk went out to the back room and re-appeared about a minute later with a piece of paper in his hand: my prescription. It was much clearer and easier to read than the typical FAX document.

The total time consumed was less than five minutes. That certainly is much faster than calling an ophthalmologist’s office in another state (especially if it was after office hours), asking them to FAX the document, and then waiting for it to arrive.

My glasses were ready a few hours later.

Between Dropbox and Evernote, I have thousands of documents filed away, including prescriptions, insurance policies, travel itineraries, bills, automobile titles and registrations, all sorts of receipts, and notes to myself that I used to write on yellow “sticky notes.” In effect, I am carrying the equivalent of a large filing cabinet in my pocket at all times.

I also save backup copies of all my genealogy data in Dropbox. The copies include the latest update of my genealogy database (and several earlier versions as well), all text notes I have written, all email messages I have sent or received concerning my own family tree, and scanned images of all the old family photographs. Even if I have a fire or a burst water pipe in my home, I know my data is safe on servers in well-managed data centers that are professionally maintained and backed up often. Of course, I always keep copies on my own computers as well.

You can easily do the same. I use both Dropbox and Evernote. Several other, competitive services are also available. I find Dropbox to be better at keeping documents, pictures, and larger computer files. I especially like the quick and easy method of uploading pictures from a camera. I typically upload the photos every week or two and then delete them from the camera in order to make room for new pictures. However, I prefer Evernote for “notes to myself” as well as many smaller things I wish to save by copying-and-pasting from information displayed on the computer screen.

You might have different preferences. You might find images created by a smartphone’s camera are perfectly acceptable. Then again, you might prefer to scan various pieces of paper using a desktop or handheld scanner. Evernote and Dropbox don’t care; they will accept either method.

NOTE: Almost all the companies I deal with, including my bank, offer paperless billing or paperless banking. I select that option whenever possible. The mailman delivers very little paper to me these days, except for junk mail and I don’t scan that. Almost all my bills now arrive in email where I can quickly save them in Dropbox or in any other cloud-based file storage service. (I tend to use Dropbox but almost all the other cloud-based file storage services will do the same thing.) Bank statements and even canceled checks for the past several years are now available in my Dropbox account. I don’t keep any of that on paper.

Security? Much, much better than keeping pieces of paper at the house, where those documents would be available to thieves or to visitors to the house or subject to mold or mildew. Also, I can find those receipts and even canceled checks much faster in Dropbox than in a filing cabinet, especially when on vacation or just traveling down to the local mall to visit an optician.

Both Dropbox and Evernote are available FREE of charge, up to some reasonable amount of data (two gigabytes of storage space for Dropbox, 60 megabytes of data transfer per month for Evernote). Those limits will hold a LOT of documents. More storage space and data transfers are available for reasonable fees.

Both Dropbox and Evernote can retrieve your data to Windows or Macintosh systems as well as most of the popular handheld devices of today. Assuming you carry a smartphone or tablet with you, your “filing cabinet” is available to you wherever you are.

Stop running around! Make your life easier! Store your data in the cloud with Dropbox and/or Evernote or some other cloud-based file storage service. There are dozens to choose from: Google Drive, Tresorit, OneDrive, SugarSync, SpiderOak, Box,, iCloud, NextCloud, and more.

For more information, look at and at


Brilliant! Thanks, Dick. I especially appreciate the further information about backing up data as I confess I have been struggling with this having several computers, several mini hard drives and about 40 usb sticks all stuffed with data. This will help me immensely.
Many thanks!


Great thoughts! Maybe sometime you could talk about how you organize so you find all of this.

Liked by 1 person

    —> Maybe sometime you could talk about how you organize so you find all of this.

    Great idea! Stay tuned. An article about that will appear in this newsletter soon.


I use Evernote so heavily that I had to go to the paid version. It’s my go-to place for backing up my blogs, for storing instructions/prescriptions/ etc. Love it.


Even better if you set up your own private cloud server somewhere in your house. Then you are not limited to 2GB, you don’t have to worry about your personal information being sold by Google Dropbox or Apple or whoever. It takes some brainwork and a little money, but in the long run it’s a better solution.


    What arrangement do you have for off-site backups, so you don’t lose everything if the private cloud server is stolen, or the house destroyed!


    And when your house burns, is flooded…..?
    But, hey, that’s how I do it. I do use the cloud for some things, but heavens, I have three large file cabinets in my office and dozens of boxes of paper in the garage. And 83,400 jpg files, photos and scans in my desktop. I suppose for safety, I should put ’em on an external hard drive and give them to one of my sons, who lives 300 miles away. Could also invest in a small fire & water-prof safe.


I do the same thing but with OneDrive but my concern is that this does not meet the backup criteria of multiple copies in multiple places. If a document is in DropBox (or similar service), it is only stored in one place and not available for being backed up by BackBlaze or similar service. (Note I am assuming that the the file is also not stored on your HD because that is too small to handle all of your cloud based files.) I realize you could copy these files to multiple places but that is easy to forget to do. How do you handle this?


    Excellent question!

    —> I realize you could copy these files to multiple places but that is easy to forget to do. How do you handle this?

    By automating the process. Most of the time, I don’t do anything. Instead, I let my computer do things for me AUTOMATICALLY.

    Every time I create a new file or modify an existing file, such as writing an article for this newsletter or saving a family photograph or saving a scanned image of the insurance policy I just received in the mail, I save it to my hard drive. WITHIN A MINUTE or so after that, two things happen:

    1. The Time Machine software in my computer AUTOMATICALLY saves a copy of that file to an external hard drive that is plugged into the USB connector on my computer. That happens AUTOMATICALLY, I don’t need to remember it. (On my desktop computer, I never unplug that external hard drive.)

    2. If my computer is connected on line at that moment, a copy of that file is also AUTOMATICALLY (and immediately) sent through the Internet to one of the cloud-based backup services that I use. That happens AUTOMATICALLY, I don’t need to remember it. If my computer is NOT connected online at the moment, a copy of the file is placed in a queue waiting for an Internet connection. The next time the computer is connected to the Internet, all files in the queue are AUTOMATICALLY (and immediately) sent to the same cloud-based backup service.

    In addition, anything I save in Evernote is AUTOMATICALLY (and immediately) sent to Evernote’s servers within seconds after I save it (assuming my computer is connected to the Internet at the time) or else placed in an Evernote queue waiting for an Internet connection. That happens AUTOMATICALLY, I don’t need to remember it.

    Once a day (I configured it to run at 3 AM), a copy of all new or modified files is sent AUTOMATICALLY to a DIFFERENT cloud-based service that I use: Amazon S3. That happens AUTOMATICALLY, I don’t need to remember it.

    I occasionally use Dropbox and Google Drive for specific things that I wish to keep separate from other things. When I create any new file or modify an existing file and save it in either Dropbox or Google Drive, the file(s) AUTOMATICALLY get saved to those services within one hour.

    In addition, all of these services ALSO AUTOMATICALLY copy the same files from the file storage services’ servers to my laptop computer the next time the laptop is powered on and connected to the Internet. That gives me additional copies in still another location: wherever my laptop is located at the moment. That happens AUTOMATICALLY, I don’t need to remember it.

    Of course, the laptop travels with me. At any moment, it might be in my home, in a hotel room, in a coffee shop, or (if I had an office) at the office. But it is still a safe and secure additional copy. Also, any new files I create on the laptop while traveling are also automatically copied back to the services I mentioned above and then copies are AUTOMATICALLY copied from those services to the hard drive of my desktop computer at home. That happens AUTOMATICALLY, I don’t need to remember it.

    All of this happens even if I am asleep at the time.

    It all sounds very complicated but it is really very simple to set up. All this runs AUTOMATICALLY whether I am seated at the computer, if I am out of the house, if I am sleeping, or even if I am traveling in Singapore or in Reykjavík.

    I do very few things manually. My memory isn’t as good as it used to be and I do sometimes forget to do various tasks. However, my computers all seem to have excellent memories. (smile) They never forget.


    —> DropBox (or similar service), it is only stored in one place…

    Not just one place.

    Dropbox then makes ADDITIONAL backup copies of all customers’ files and saves them in different Dropbox data centers in different locations. According to an article at : “The company operates three data centers in the U.S. but none in Europe, and uses [Amazon Web Services] resources in Europe to serve some customers on that continent.”

    So there are backups to your backups.

    Most of the other cloud-based file storage services do something similar. Details will vary but almost all of them store multiple copies of your files in multiple data centers in various locations.


    —-> Note I am assuming that the the file is also not stored on your HD because that is too small to handle all of your cloud based files.

    Most of the cloud-based file storage services provide OPTIONS and you need to select the options that will work best for you and your computer(s). With the majority of the services, one option is to keep identical copies in BOTH your local hard drive and in the cloud-based file service(s). That is the option I have chosen.


I just started using Evernote. Am wondering how I will find a lot of things I save, even in separate folders? Is there a way to do that?


    When I first started using Evernote, I thought it was necessary to create different folders (Evernote calls them “Notebooks”) for all sorts of different topics: automobile, bills, medical items, my father’s ancestry, my mother’s ancestry, and so on. After using Evernote for a while, I found that the app was cluttered with all sorts of folders, making things more difficult to find instead of easier. I soon downsized to fewer Notebooks and I find things work better now.

    Searching for items in Evernote is a lot like searching for items in Google. Does Google divide searches up into dozens or hundreds of topics? No. Things work best when Google lumps everything together. Simple searches will search through EVERYTHING. You can use advanced search options on Google if you really need to do so. Evernote is much the same.


I store two of my six backup drives (they are bare drives I mount in a holder connected by USB to my computer for backing up my data drive) in our safety deposit box. We pay for a large one and it’s worth the extra cost.


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