By Russell Williams
Some of you might have heard a lot of talk about the cloud and wondered what it is and where it is? The term cloud in an Information Technology (IT) context speaks to the Internet and particular applications or apps that are accessed via the Internet. The chances are that you may have already engaged in or made use of cloud-based services.
Web-mail such, as Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo are examples of cloud-based apps, as is online banking. There are those who make use of office productivity apps such as word-processors, spreadsheets and calendaring. Or perhaps you store your pictures and documents with services such as Dropbox and Flickr. These are all examples of cloud-based services.
There are some people who do not want to have their information stored in the cloud, yet want to be able to access their documents and email from several locations perhaps on PC’s they do not own. Cloud-based services such as those mentioned require Internet access and options such as GotoMyPC not only require Internet at your current location but you are required to leave a PC on!
There are alternatives for those who want portable apps but would rather leave being in the clouds for the birds. There are applications that can be installed and run from a USB storage device, whether this is a USB pen-drive or an external hard drive.
I have used applications from www.portableapps.com such as the Firefox and Opera browsers as well as Open Office now call Libre Office and have been pretty well satisfied. However, I came across a useful Personal Information Management (PIM) application, called EssentialPIM www.essentialpim.com. The application combines e-Mail as well as calendaring capabilities, and there were local hard disc and USB versions of the app available.
The program was relatively easy to install though one must be sure to specify the name of the USB device if installing the portable version to an external disc or USB pen-drive. To those familiar with Microsoft Outlook, not only does EssentialPIM have a familiar appearance, but it can also import your data from Outlook. Once the import is complete – and I advise you to be patient and disregard the progress bar – your Outlook data is now portable. All you need to do is plug your USB device into a Windows compatible PC locate the EssentialPIM executable in the installation folder, double click on it and away you go.
This can be a very useful tool for persons who are on the road and don’t want to use web based services or set up e-mail on two or more PCs.