Cloud Computing For Authors: Can You Say “Dropbox?”

Clouds_OpMore and more systems have turned to cloud computing to reduce hardware requirements and improve access, convenience, and speed. As a result, the phrase the cloud has become an everyday part of our vocabulary. But just what is cloud computing, and why is it so popular? What does the advent of this technology mean for us? Will it become as big a phenomenon as the iPhone, or will it be more like Bing – known by all, but only used by some?

What is Cloud Computing?

Simply defined, cloud computing is a form of data processing that’s been around since the 1950’s, but the service is provided over a network rather than via computer hardware. That allows for a lighter computer experience, certainly lighter than the thousands of pounds of machinery that made up the first computers. A well-known version of cloud computing is the VPN, or Virtual Private Network, which originated with the telecommunications industry and connected users to a shared network instead of directly to another user.


Today, cloud computing is a common component of modern life. Nearly every major technological system seems to use some type of cloud computing. Apple’s iCloud is a popular example. It allows users to dump music, videos, and other large files offsite without concern about filling up a hard drive. Ummm, but there was that recent scandal involving hacking and naked pictures …


Dropbox is an online cloud-based application that lets you save, share, and store files. Once your files are there, you can sync all your devices – Kindle, computer, phone, tablet, etc. – and retrieve these files from anywhere, at any time, as long as you have Internet access. Not only that, you can designate who can see your files, photos, and documents, and share these things with friends, family, and editors. Other than your designated shares, your files are private, and you control who can see them.

Dropbox is a writer’s productivity booster. You can work from anywhere, on any device, whenever you find yourself with unexpected time. Best of all? If your computer dies, your files are safe. It’s an auto-backup system that ensures you’ll never misplace or delete your precious, irreplaceable manuscripts. SkyDrive, SugarSync,, and Google Drive are examples of other cloud-based storage applications. I prefer Dropbox because it’s simple and easy to use.

Point of sale systems

Point of Sale (POS) systems are another major beneficiary of cloud computing. These technologies provide small business owners with a mobile cash register – think authors selling books at festivals and other venues – where a traditional checkout line is not an option. For example, Shopify introduced a line of iPad card readers that connect to tablets and allow sellers to scan all major credit cards from wherever, making it easier for individual sellers to meet the customer halfway.

Accounting and tax return computing

Another benefit of cloud computing can be found in financial management and tax software. Intuit, the creator of QuickBooks, has taken to the cloud and now offers a wide range of tax and financial management software that is cloud-based and secure. Just like the Internet, cloud computing is a simple system that can be utilized in a number of different ways.

Readers, how do you use “the cloud?” What’s your favorite cloud-based application? Please leave a comment and share!

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23 Responses to Cloud Computing For Authors: Can You Say “Dropbox?”

  1. Jon Jefferson October 27, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    For the most part, I do the majority of my writing between my macbook and my ipad mini. Everything is shared between the two devices via icloud or Microsofts onedrive.

    With the change of microsoft office to a cloud based system they now offer a terabyte of storage for subscribers. When you deal with a decent number of pictures and videos it is great not only having the cloud to transfer them between but also multiple places for storage.

    • Molly Greene October 27, 2014 at 1:40 pm #

      Thank Jon, and I love 3 things about Dropbox specifically: 1) it backs up my documents, 2) it allows me to work between computers without transferring files, and 3) I can work on a mss from anywhere, at any time. Yay!

  2. Dianne Greenlay October 27, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    Molly, when my computer was recently overhauled, it began to tell me that my dropbox was full and urged me to buy more storage. How much storage does the average person use? I am a writer but would only have 4 MS on there. No movies, and only less than 500 pictures.

    • Molly Greene October 27, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

      Hi Dianne – Depending on the file size of your photo images, my guess is they are what’s filling up your storage space. I think you could keep million docs in Dropbox and never get full. Maybe you could consider moving pictures to permanent hard-drive/hardware storage to free up some room?

  3. Dianne Greenlay October 27, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

    thanks, Molly. I dunno why it auto saved everything into my dropbox after my computer “clean-up” service. can I just click and delete? is there a way to Mass delete?

    • Molly Greene October 27, 2014 at 4:42 pm #

      Sorry, I have no idea! I’m a chicken about deleting – I’d have to look at every single one before I sent it to the trash 🙂

  4. Jacqueline Texier October 27, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    I have found an interesting article that gives pause as to completely trusting Dropbox with sensitive information. I don’t care how popular or convenient the “Cloud” is, I believe safety and security always come first in considering any technology.

    • Molly Greene October 27, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

      Hi Jacqueline, thanks for that. I think we’re all careful when it comes to storing sensitive information. In my humble opinion, the convenience of access & sharing makes storing a WIP on Dropbox worthwhile.

  5. Sally Jenkins October 28, 2014 at 3:31 am #

    I use Dropbox – as you say it’s very easy and you know that everything is automatically backed-up and available on any device with an internet connection. I thoroughly recommend it!

    • Molly Greene October 28, 2014 at 7:59 am #

      Thanks, Sally! I love the convenience, as well. Not sure I could go back to moving things around via email or that little thumb drive I used to cart with me everywhere.

  6. Belinda Pollard October 28, 2014 at 4:30 am #

    I keep my latest work in a Dropbox folder, Molly. It’s on a free 2GB account. I also have other backups… an external hard drive on my desk and a paid cloud service that backs up all 128GB of files on my hard drive to somewhere in outer space!

    I think back to the days of computers with floppy disc drives. And the only copy you had was on that little floppy disc. Oh my, I’m old. 😉

    • Molly Greene October 28, 2014 at 8:01 am #

      I use the free service, too, Belinda, and I remember floppy disks – in fact, I probably still have one somewhere, hahahaha.

  7. Molly Greene October 28, 2014 at 9:12 am #

    Yikes! Sorry to hear about your computer troubles, Debra, and I understand the frustration. I use two laptops and Dropbox is a dream for me. And I own Scrivener but have not tackled it yet. SOON!! Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. Pamela Beason October 28, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

    I use Dropbox to pass graphics files back and forth with contractors in other locations, but I’m a bit paranoid about storing any useful data in “the cloud.” (Since I’m a PI as well as an author, I’m a bit paranoid about potential criminal activity everywhere.) Big data storage is always a prime target for hackers, so I never save anything sensitive in the cloud.

    • Molly Greene October 28, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

      I actually agree, Pam. I keep very little in “the cloud,” mostly things I’m currently working on. Wasn’t there a big blowup just recently about naked pictures stored in the cloud? lol!

  9. John Chapman October 29, 2014 at 5:08 am #

    I keep all my files locally on hard drive and network storage because my Internet connection speed is fairly slow. I live three miles from any town or village. I do use Dropbox and Google’s cloud storage though, as well as storage space on my website server. It’s an important part of my disaster recovery plan.

    Consider what would happen if you faced a disaster at home – a fire, a flood, an earthquake or volcanic eruption. What would happen to all your computer files? I’m not just talking about your books – what about all the research you’ve done? What about your contacts and email files? In my own case a fire would be the most likely disaster. If the unthinkable did happen my files would be recoverable from my NAS – Network Attached Storage – which is housed in an external building and linked by a powerline network to my computers. If that were to fail, I have periodic backups stored on the cloud.

    • Molly Greene October 29, 2014 at 11:36 am #

      So true, John, thanks, and so well put. I live in a place where the electricity goes off regularly (all it takes is for a wild turkey to fly into the lines, and we’re out for five hours) and that means no battery recharge and no Internet. I’m prepared, but I probably could do much more. Thanks for the reminder!

  10. L. Darby Gibbs (Elldee) November 1, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    I love it when you answer a question I haven’t gotten around to ask. I always gain something when I visit your blog, Molly. I remember the floppy disc as well. I have two external drives for everything, two thumb drives for current work and as of about ten minutes ago Dropbox.

    • Molly Greene November 2, 2014 at 8:24 am #

      Yaaaay! Thrilled to help, Elldee. Enjoy Dropbox!

  11. L. Darby Gibbs (Elldee) November 2, 2014 at 8:53 am #

    Thanks, I’ll be dropping by again for further good advice.

    • Molly Greene November 3, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

      Elldee, you’re welcome any time!

  12. D.G. Kaye November 6, 2014 at 8:40 pm #

    Dropbox! Saved my bacon! An author friend had told me about it well over a year ago. About 2 weeks after I signed up for it, my computer crashed. I was doing my happy dance I didn’t lose my MS.

    • Molly Greene November 7, 2014 at 7:45 am #

      I’ve heard so many similar stories!! Authors everywhere just heaved a huge sigh of acknowledgement about the potential pain 😉