So I have decided to give Google Apps/Drive a decent try. I must admit, its actually pretty cool. If you don't know what that is, its basically Google’s version of Microsoft office and file storage / email / calendar / Tasks, all online and accessed through a web browser.
Not only is it easy to use, but having everything in the cloud has its advantages. Since there is soo much personal information when using it (documents and files) accessible online, I recommend using the dual authentication by means of the mobile phone authenticator to increase security (need your password and a randomly generated number to get access to your account). I'll list some of the features I found particularly useful.
1. No need to install applications – You can get it on ANY computer by simply logging into your account in a web browser. That being said, Google’s own Chrome browser is best suited to take advantage of all the features like offline access.
2. Platform independent – You can use it on your phone (especially with android), Linux, Mac, Windows, etc. If you can browse the web, you can access your docs.
3. Integrated with everything you need for daily use – Having email, calendar, tasks list(s) and documents in one place is really nice.
4. Sharing and collaboration – When working on documents, its really easy to send as an attachment in either Open Document format (LibreOffice / OpenOffice) or Microsoft format. If the person also has a Google account, you can add them directly and give them a link with either view access or view/edit access. If you don't like what they change, you can also see the different versions of the document to revert any changes.
5. Backup / offline access – There is an option for you to download your whole drive (all your files) in a zip file AND convert documents to Open Document or a Microsoft format. Very useful to have a backup, in case something horrible happens, like some one gets on your account and deletes everything or changes your passwords. Also nice if you decide you don't want to continue using google. In Chrome, you also have the option to sync your documents for offline access, so you do not need an internet connection.
6. Google drive on the desktop – You can download Google drive on your computer to sync files. It's just like DropBox or Microsoft SkyDrive. Anything you put in the Google drive folder, gets synced with all your other devices.
Now there are some disadvantages such as needing an internet connection for optimal usefulness, but having offline access and the Google drive installed on the desktop can minimize this. There is also the security concern. Having soo much personal information online can put people off, but having a good password and dual authentication can help keep your data safe and private.
If you want to give it a try, its free with 15GB of storage! Plenty for documents and email for life. If you have a business, it becomes really nice, as you can integrate your own domain name and get personal emails / user management (get an email like firstname.lastname@example.org). It starts at about $5 per user for the business side, and gives you 30GB of storage to start.
Being able to cut down IT costs by not having a complicated on site network of computers is a big plus, because if your computer dies, you simply put pretty much any other computer to take its place, and simply login to drive.google.com in the web browser and your working again in minutes! No need for expensive office suites like Microsoft Office or complicated back ends like Microsoft Server.
Take it one step further and try out a chromebook, then you don't have to worry about the anti-virus or computer upkeep either! They auto-update and maintain them selves.
This may be putting me out of a job a bit, but the future is coming, simplicity and cost efficiency is what I look for when finding solutions for my clients. This won't work for every one, but give it a try and you may find it very appealing!