TODAY   |  November 03, 2013

Cloud confusion? How to easily store photos, data and more

Cloud storage can be used to back up data and access files in one place. But is it safe? TODAY’s digital lifestyle expert Mario Armstrong tells TODAY’s Erica Hill the best way to keep files protected and accessible.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> armstrong is "today's" digital lifestyle expert. we called you in for help.

>> you've been calling me at 2:00 a.m ., e-mails at 3:00 a.m .

>> is that too snuch i thought we could do that.

>> i'm always on the help desk .

>> in all seriousness give us a basic 101, what is the cloud ?

>> in a nutshell, this is the ability to have your photos, your video, your files stored in the internet basically at a different facility. think about it like your storage bin. if you have furniture and you want to move it, you put in a storage bin in a physical place.

>> instead of being stored only on your hard drive or an external hard drive , it's stored on the server somewhere else .

>> somewhere else .

>> now we know where it's going. what should be going? what should i be using the cloud for?

>> the easiest way to deal with this is what do you want to have access to all the time? there's two reasons to have the cloud . one, to back up your data, two to be able to get access to it on any device. that's the whole purpose. as long as i can get to the internet on my phone, my tablet, my laptop, i can get to my data. i would say things that are precious to you, maybe special photos, important documents, but not everything.

>> not all my e-mail contacts, probably more like pictures, music.

>> exactly.

>> when we're putting it on, you have important parameters on how to store this stuff.

>> it depends. this is a screen right here showing i cloud . this is one particular form of cloud services. there's drop box. this is the apple one. a lot of people don't pay attention to the settings. they may run out of space on their phone or tablet. they're wondering why. check the settings. if you notice, i have photos off. i don't back up my photos from my iphone or photos, i put them on flicker, a separate cloud for that.

>> you said we should encrypt really sensitive files and a strong password.

>> strong password is key.

>> we weren't the only ones with questions. we asked you at home to send us your questions. kyle is in the orange room with questions. what have you got?

>> a lot of tweets. a couple good ones. one from kelly. she wants to know, mario, i use i cloud and drop box. how can cloud services guarantee privacy and security and how do they prevent data loss . what do you think?

>> everyone wants to know this. this is the achilles' heel of the whole thing. if people can access the data --

>> who is to say someone else can't get it?

>> drop box reported back in 2012 that they were hacked into. you won't get 100% safety. if you have several files, encrypt them first and strong, strong passwords.

>> before we let you go, even with the cloud storage, should we still be using an external hard drive to back things up?

>> yes, i believe so. i think you should have multiple copies of your most precious files in multiple locations. if you have an external hard drive don't leave it near the computer. if you get flooding or burn down your house, you want it somewhere else .

>> put it in the actual storage facility where you have your winter coats.