7 Great Cloud Apps for Businesses and Teams

I recently started a part time, fully online/remote degree in Digital Design & Technology after working in a similar field, unqualified, for nearly 15 years. I thought I knew it all and knew the best tools of the trade. I was wrong.

The fact that my course is 100% online forced the usage of the apps/websites I’m about to detail but I’ll be using these for my own business, collaborative and personal use from here on in. All of the following apps are cloud based and available from any device with internet access. All (Except Coggle) have native app versions for mobile devices too which give a streamlined, better user interface if you’re not at your main desktop or laptop.

You may notice a slight Google bias here! Most are free for personal/lite usage.

1 Gmail

Gmail

Nothing new or groundbreaking here of course but you can’t beat gmail for reliable, cloud based email communication. Filtering, Labels & Folders and email search are dead handy as is syncing between different device versions.

Standout Feature: Multiple accounts.

https://www.google.com/gmail/

2 Google Drive

Google Drive

A file repository and storage system but with document sharing, commenting and integration with Google Docs, Sheets etc.. I love the live editing mode where you can actually see other people typing/editing on screen and commenting within documents is handy too.

Standout Feature: File & Folder access/sharing.

https://www.google.com/drive/

3 Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts

Excellent call conferencing and instant messaging system with good integration with Google Calendar, ie – click the link in a calendar event to join a call.

Standout Feature: Screen sharing to a group.

https://hangouts.google.com/

4 Google Calendar

Google Calendar

Event/task reminder system with event invites and reminder notifications. I can’t live without this in my life. I might forget to breathe without it. Automatic email notifications of event changes to event attendees is handy.

Standout Feature: Add other people to events/Indicate attendance.

https://www.google.com/calendar/

5 Google Apps (Docs, Sheets & Slides)

Google Apps

A cloud based alternative to the Microsoft Office suite of office apps. Apps are slightly less functional than the Microsoft versions but all are very capable still. I love that documents are automatically backed up and available across devices.

Standout Feature: Live simultaneous document editing by multiple people.

https://gsuite.google.com/

6 Coggle

Coggle

Simple collaborative mind mapping and idea generation tool. Initiate an idea in the centre and drag “idea” branches and sub branches out from it. Notifications of changes to branches are emailed to members automatically.

Standout Feature: Mind map exporting.

https://coggle.it/

7 Trello

Trello

I’ve saved the best until last. My OCD loves this one! Trello is a collaborative project management tool with “Cards” for each task and To Do, Doing and Done columns. It’s great for an Agile/Scrum environment as task cards can have deadlines etc.. You can organise everything from a major project to your whole life with Trello.

Standout Feature: Board notifications and integration with Google calendar.

https://trello.com/

How To Add an SPF Record in Cpanel

Spent quite a bit of time Googling around for an answer to this but couldn’t find an article that described it properly anywhere. I was having a bit of trouble with “undelivered mail” email spam, ie – people were using my domain to send spam emails to other people but the emails were bouncing back to me when no inbox was found. Adding an SPF record to your domain tells other email clients that your domain is a little bit more trustworthy and can also help avoid your legitimate emails going into other people’s spam.

I Googled how to setup an SPF record manually in WHM but found conflicting results on the correct syntax to use but then I realised that there’s an actual automated tool inside Cpanel! If you go to “Email Authentication” under “Mail” in your site’s Cpanel (see below) and “Enable” SPF, you can then customise it slightly for your situation and the resulting SPF record will be added automatically to your DNS zone:

Email Authentication

Once SPF is enabled, it will add automatic rules to your record based on your sending server IP address but you can add server/domain details for other servers which might send email from your domain. For example I use Google Apps email and have switched all my email to them from my own domain via DNS. The screenshot below shows the “Incude” setup for me:

Include

Finally, here’s my full SPF record, added automatically to my DNS zone via the above process:

[php]reverbstudios.ie. 14400 IN TXT "v=spf1 +a +mx +ip4:212.126.36.48 +include:_spf.google.com +include:reverbstudios.ie ~all"[/php]

You can test your new SPF record HERE once the DNS change has propogated.

Leon

Cloud Computing??

Everyone’s got an opinion or definition as to what cloud computing is all about and why it might be beneficial so here’s mine.

First of all the standard definition:

“Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet).” – Wikipedia

And in English:

“Rather than access software on your computer, you access it through a website.” – Leon

Why Cloud Compute? The Benefits:

  • Cheaper or FREE,
  • More secure,
  • Easy access via any internet enabled device,
  • Data backed up automatically,
  • Syncing between devices,
  • Flexibility,
  • More Scalable.
The Downsides:
  • Requires good internet,
  • Less capable software (but maybe not for long!).
I’m personally switching as much stuff to the cloud as I can, here’s what I’ve switched so far:
I’m hoping to buy a Google Chrome notebook soon which is a laptop that pretty much only runs an internet browser (Chrome). That’s all I really need to run my business these days. In fact I could probably do it all from my phone too!
Leon