We all like to consider ourselves hip and cool and down with the times, but let’s be honest—this “cloud” thing can be a bit much to keep straight and often takes on a mind of its own.
1. Can someone please define “the cloud” for me?
#1: If you’re using social media in any capacity, then you’re using the cloud. #2: The cloud is not a physical thing. It’s—and here’s where the lingo gets a little tech-y—a network of servers, and each server has a different function. #3: Still with us? Some of these [network] servers “deliver a service” (think of a photo editing application, such as Adobe, where you pay a monthly service fee) while other servers are responsible for storing data (think Instagram). #4: If it’s still not clear, just think of the cloud as invisible cartoon bubbles of information floating over your head.
2. What’s the difference between cloud backup and cloud syncing?
Glad you asked; let’s start with cloud backup – it’s what it sounds like: your data is stored in the cloud and you can access it when you need it. Without getting too technical, cloud backup doesn’t erase the need for local backup on an external hard drive, but it’s an easy solution for an off-site backup. Cloud syncing, on the other hand, allows you to make files across devices (like your phone, computer, etc.) the SAME file.
3. I think I get the basics. So how do I sync what’s on my phone to the cloud? (*Note: the answers provided are for iCloud users.)
- On your phone, go to “Settings”
- Click on either “Mail,” “Contacts” or “Calendars” (depending on what you need to sync)
- Scroll down under each category until you see “Accounts” and make sure the default account is set to “iCloud”
- To sync photos, click on the “Photo” icon under “Settings” and turn on “iCloud Photo Library”
If everything isn’t synching, it’s what the tech community calls a “sync delay.” Here’s how you force the iCloud to sync:
- In Contacts:
- Launch contacts
- Tap on “groups”
- A page will appear listing all the contact groups you have created.
- Tap and gently hold anywhere on the page and swipe down. A new area of grey space will appear at the top of the page with a spinning activity icon. After a few seconds, release the page.
- Activity icon should spin briefly and stop. Check to see if the contacts have synced (hint: they should; this is called a “Force Sync”).
- In Calendar:
- Launch Calendar
- Tap “calendars” at the bottom of the page
- A page will appear listing all the calendars you sync to your device
- This will sound familiar: Tap and gently hold anywhere on the page and swipe down. A new area of grey space will appear at the top of the page with a spinning activity icon. After a few seconds, release the page.
- The activity icon will stop. Click “done” and check to see if the calendar has synced.
At the very least, you should know how to store and backup your device using iCloud. If your brain is a little fuzzy on the details, you can find a refresher course .