After five years of problem-free Mac usage, last week my hard disc crashed. And as you might have guessed, I’m not so much of a backup guy.
Luckily I barely lost a thing, because being a cloud computing strategist it is kind of expected to walk the talk, so much of my stuff is in the cloud nowadays. Here’s how you can minimize your damage:

  1. Online mail: keeping local email using POP3 is so 1990s. That’s why I switched last year to Gmail as a place to store my mail conversations (and also as an attachments dump place). My Capgemini email is stored on the company’s exchange server, but rumors say that some folks rely on Gmail rather than Exchange. All in all we can’t complain much since our corporate mail account is 500 MB. I have seen very few clients that offer that much space (still it doesn’t beat the 7.5 GB Gmail storage). Forcing yourself to use the great Gmail web interface rather than connecting to it with a local email client using IMAP is yet a hassle less you need to worry about when setting up your new machine.
  2. Online documents: I use a combination of Google Apps, Microsoft Live Skydrive and Microsoft Office Live Workspaces for my documents I am working on (and as an extra: integrates flawlessly with Office 2007!). My todo list is hosted by so no worries about lost post-it notes there either.
  3. Storage: all the rest goes to my Amazon Web Services S3 storage-in-the-cloud that I sync using JungleDisk and manual uploading with s3fox. If you are a Windows user, you can also try something like CloudBerry to take care of your online backups.

So my setup:

  1. Google Apps (includes Gmail)
  2. Microsoft Live: Skydrive and Office Workspaces
  3. Amazon Web Services S3 using s3fox and
  4. Remember the Milk

Just plugged in a new 320 GB hard disc in my Macbook and the few things I had to do was installing OSX, Firefox with some plugins and Adobe AIR VM with some apps to get me running. Boo Yah!

Lee Provoost is a Cloud Computing Strategist and ERP+ lead at Capgemini. You can follow his ongoing stream of thoughts on Twitter