96Last week I explained about Cloud computing – what it is, and what it is not. My simple definition was:
“… doing IT stuff such as storing data, running programs and hosting computers and servers, over the internet instead of locally, and using a service that is owned by someone else”.
Since then I discovered an even simpler definition at Wikipedia:
 
“Cloud computing is internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand.”
Given those definitions, platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, Flickr, Slideshare and Skype can reasonably be included in your list of cloud applications – platforms that hold your data (images, video, presentations, voice) and look after it all so you don’t have to worry about them.

This week I want to go through my 10 favorite, really clever cloud apps that you might be less aware of, but that can either save you and your business time, or more importantly, save you and your business money.
#1  DropBox – a web-based file hosting service, which uses cloud computing to let you store and share files and folders with others across the internet using file synchronization. There are both free and paid services, each with varying options. I use DropBox all the time. Quite often my small business clients have to send me big files (text, audio or video) and to do that via email is a bit of a nightmare. So they upload the files to Dropbox and I can instantly have access to them, either on my computers or on my phone. Go to site.
#2  Logmein – a suite of software services that provides remote access to computers over the internet. The free version is very nice, and lets you do almost anything on your work computer, from home, while on vacation, or even from your tablet while in the car (with someone else driving, of course). Go to site.
#3  MozyPro – an online backup service that not only completely automates making backups, but also stores them offsite, in case of fire, theft, or other disaster. Free version is great for home use. There is a paid version for business use, that handles hard to backup programs such as Microsoft Exchange, SQL Server, and many accounting and CRM systems. At Root-InfoTech we have a large partner account with MozyPro in order to get lower prices for our clients – which I’ll make available to any of my readers as well. Go to site.
 #4  Evernote – this is my favorite cloud app. I am always finding new ways to use it in my everyday life both personally and business related. In fact, I rely heavily on it to write these articles. Evernote is a suite of software and services designed for notetaking and archiving. It’s available in a paid version or a more restricted, advertising-supported, free version. A note can be a piece of formattable text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten inknote. Notes can also have file attachments. Notes can then be sorted into folders, tagged, annotated, edited, given comments, and searched. Go to site.
#5  SugarCRM – a powerful application for managing a company’s interactions with current and future customers. It uses technology to organize, automate, and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service, and technical support. It is a customer relationship management (CRM) system that is available in both open source and Commercial open source applications. The commercial version is used by millions of companies, including Coca-Cola, Avis, H&R Block and Go Daddy. The free version is technically difficult to implement, but once it’s up and running, avoids all of the typical monthly charges. We at Root-InfoTech have set up the free version for dozens of our clients – and they love it. Go to site.
#6  Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides – productivity apps that let you create different kinds of online documents, work on them in real time with other people, and store them online – all for free. You can access the documents, spreadsheets, and presentations you create from any computer, anywhere in the world. Go to site.

#7  Campfire – a business-oriented online chat service. It lets you set up password-protected chat rooms in just seconds. Invite a client, colleague, or vendor to chat, collaborate, and make decisions. Link to a room on your intranet for internal communications. Campfire has four different plans available starting at $12 per month and going up to $99 per month, and all accounts have a 30 day free trial. Go to site.

#8  Basecamp – a web-based project management tool. Primary features are to-do lists, milestone management, forum-like messaging, file sharing, and time tracking. Basecamp has four different plans available starting at $24 per month, up to $149 per month and all accounts have a 30 day free trial. Go to site.

#9  Zoho – an Office Suite similar to Microsoft Office and Google Docs, but much more comprehensive. You can create spreadsheets, documents, invoices, wiki pages, and much more. There’s even a built-in CRM app. Go to site.
#10  Zoom – a web-hosted service that lets you easily set up webinars and business videoconferences. Both free and paid versions. I’ve used both, and recommend you check it out. Go to site.