Act Local, Impact Global – Google Cloud Connect & Microsoft Office

Moving in the opposite direction, there’s a new way to work locally and act globally, or more accurately, in the cloud, with the newly-released-to-everyone Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office. This service allows two or more to work on the same Microsoft Office file (2003 forward / Windows PCs only) and back it up using Google Docs.

Cloud Connect adds a toolbar to the Microsoft Office interface. With that toolbar, you can give Microsoft Office the same online capabilities as Google Docs. You also can give Google Docs meaningful offline capability.

The killer feature is sharing and simultaneous editing of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files from within office, but via the great Google cloud. Synced files are continuously backed up and fitted out with a unique Web address for sharing. Even offline edits make it up –  Google Cloud Connect will sync those changes the next time you log onto the Web.

Don’t worry if you get too crazy with the edits – Cloud Connect stores previous versions and you can roll back to earlier versions if you want. When there are two or more edits to the same section at the same time, the user can choose which version to keep.

All you need is a free plug-in and a Google account. Google Cloud Connect works on Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7. However, sadly enough, it doesn’t work with Microsoft Office for Mac. Not sure if there is any hope for a Mac version in the future.

You can download here Google Cloud Connect onto your capable machine running the eligible Microsoft Office versions. And get cloud backup and collaboration within the Google ecosystem for free.

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When Your Front-end Cloud Needs Back Up

One of the most frequently-spouted objections to playing with your data in the cloud is the fear that all that data, once flying around in the ether and out of your control, might be lost forever on the wings of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. The big news over the past week about Google’s loss of Gmail data for a number of accouts (link here) painfully reinforces the point.

But common sense should prevail in the cloud, as it does on the ground. If you don’t back up your data, be it residing on your hard drive or elsewhere, you are standing squarely in harm’s way.

So, given the situation, what can the average person do to ensure that their important information does not get lost in a software update, computer glitch, or malicious viral wave?

You can set up an auto-forward within Gmail, using POP configuration, to send mail to your chosen client – simply click on your account settings and the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab to enable POP. This will load all your Gmail into your client email program, creating a copy on the web and a local copy.  

For what it is worth, you can add multiple internet email services to your local Outlook client (not just Gmail), and archive locally from there.

You also can backup your Gmail, Twitter, Facebook (profile and pages), Google Calendar, Contacts, Docs and Sites, Blogger, LinkedIn, Picasa, Zoho, and Flickr accounts with an online service called Backupify. The free version gives you 2GB of storage, or you can purchase 100GB of storage for $4.99 per month – pretty darn cheap. The site offers automatic archiving and search of backups with extreme simplicity – there really is no downside to signing up for a free account and setting up your various data feeds to be sent automatically to Backupify, even as a redundant + redundant system.

For Gmail only, you also can use the Gmail Backup Tool. Download the app, set up your account and your backups will be automatically generated and stored locally, with an auto-restore option for your online Gmail account.

While Gmail is in the limelight right now, it never hurts to put methods in place to save your treasured data. For eample, I have enabled my Twitter RSS feed to flow into my Google Reader account, providing me with a means of storing my tweets and searching the entire history of my existence on Twitter. I have enabled a plug-in on my WordPress blog to facilitate easy backup prior to upgrading to new versions of WordPress, which seem to come out almost every other month.

For every reason, there is a method. Find one that works and get going!