An awesome cloud-based setup

Clouds. We all know what they are, but do we know what "the cloud" is? It seems everything happens in "the cloud" these days, and if you're not in the cloud, you're just not up-to-date.

Well let me tell you there's a lot of options when it comes to moving your digital life into the cloud, but there's one setup which I find works particularly well which I'd like to share with you.

If you are a home user with a Windows-based computer (a PC), with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel etc), and a descent internet connection, and want your stuff backed up and available on multiple devices, read on.... One thing to note, this guide is written with Windows 10 in mind, there might be some minor differences with other versions of Windows, but is should still work OK.

Step 1 - Buy Office

Firstly let's start with Microsoft Office. When buying Office, you have two options. You can buy a standalone Office package with a once-off fee for lifetime use, or you can buy Office 365 which has an annual fee. The basic standalone office package costs about 50% more than the annual fee version, so you might think that's the way to go. My suggestion is to get Office 365 - either Home (if you have others who need Office on their computers), or Personal if it's just for you.

Step 2 - Sign up and install Office

Once you've bought Office 365, there's a download link on the box (https://setup.office.com may work) which will take you through the setup process. During that process you'll sign up for a Microsoft account (or sign in if you already have one) and download the software.

Step 3 - Sign in to OneDrive

Here's the secret sauce which makes this yearly payment option really shine - the cloud storage. Microsoft OneDrive is a service provided by Microsoft where all the files you save into a designated folder on your computer (the OneDrive folder) are automatically copied up to an online storage area reserved just for you.

You'll find OneDrive in the system tray (bottom-right of your screen). It's the image that looks like a cloud like below:

Or you can also find it in File Explorer in the left-hand pane

Open it and sign in when prompted. You can generally leave the defaults as is. The exception being if you have a small system drive and a larger data drive, you might want to change the default location of your OneDrive folder to the data drive. If you don't know what I'm talking about here, don't worry, just go with the defaults.

Step 4 - Move your stuff to OneDrive

Now we have OneDrive setup, the final trick is to ensure your Document, Music, Pictures, Videos, and Desktop are all saved in the new OneDrive folder. That way any changes made will be automatically synchronised with your online account. Let's do this with the Documents folder, you can repeat the process for the others.

Right-click on the Documents folder and select Properties. You'll often find it under the Quick Links section in File Explorer, or you can click on This PC. You should see the Properties box:

Now click on the Location tab.

Then in the text box with the path string (C:\Users\Derek\Documents) in the above screenshot, type 'OneDrive\' before 'Documents'. So in the above example, it would become C:\Users\Derek\OneDrive\Documents.

You'll be prompted to confirm your action a few times, once to create that folder, once to move the data, and once for something about confirming the change in redirection. Just accept all those prompts until it starts moving your data.

Repeat this same process for the Pictures, Music, Videos,and Desktop folders.

And voila! You now have your computer setup with Office, and all your documents syncronised using OneDrive. If you repeat this process on another computer, you'll see all your documents appear on that computer, and any changes you make on one computer will be automatically syncronised on the other computer, pretty nifty right?!

So that's the process. If you have any questions about this, please let me know in the comments below.

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