This is a sponsored post written on behalf of TappIn. All opinions are 100% my own.

Don’t you know about the cloud? Well, everybody’s talking about the cloud! But I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the cloud is the word. For those not in the know, “the cloud” is a simple term used for describing one of the many ways that data can be stored and retrieved remotely over the Internet, as opposed to the traditional practice of accessing data from a local hard drive that’s physically attached to a system.

What Are the Benefits of Cloud Storage?

For the average consumer who doesn’t want to be bothered with backing up important files, documents, family photos, emails, music, movies, and whatever else can be digitized and crammed onto hard drives these days, this is a boon. The cloud is also helpful for people who collaborate with others online in real time (at LockerGnome, we have a team that spans the globe; we take advantage of this particular feature on a daily basis). And with the absolutely huge amount of data that we collect nowadays as opposed to 10 — or even five — years ago, the hard drive of yesterday just isn’t adequate for most of us today.

Upgrading the necessary equipment isn’t an option for everyone, though. Besides, who wants to go through all that time and expense only to have everything vanish into oblivion should a worst-case scenario — like fire, flood, tornado, earthquake, hurricane, volcano, tsunami, Godzilla, or zombie apocalypse — strike? When we look at things from this perspective, cloud computing seems to make a lot of sense. Dropbox, Google Drive, SugarSync, iCloud, Amazon, and others have emerged — and more are emerging seemingly daily — to help us keep tabs on our society’s vast data needs. They’ll usually start you out, gratis, with a reasonable amount of storage (5 GB seems pretty common), but you need to pay for anything beyond that. The free level is likely useful for the majority of users, but it’s just a tease for those of us who deal with more massive data arsenals, and even upgrading to higher levels (many IT professionals would back me up on this point) just isn’t feasible at all for corporations with data centers that look like the bridge of the Death Star.

Why not? Well, sure, cloud computing is a world-changing idea — and we’re all really glad that it exists as an option to the standard way we’ve been treating and dealing with our data — but it’s not without its downfalls.

What’s Wrong with Cloud Storage?

  • If there’s no connection, there’s no data. If your Internet connection goes down, so does your access to the data that’s stored in the cloud.
  • If there’s a slow connection, data transfer (up and down) will be slow. In the real world as well as the virtual, traffic jams are no fun. How long did it take you to get to work this morning? How long will it be before you can leave work because you’re waiting on your cloud-stored data to get its act in gear?
  • What’s valuable to you isn’t always valuable to someone else. With the proliferation of mobile devices — from laptops to tablets to smartphones — it’s easier than ever for your company’s employees to take work — and your company’s secrets — home with them. They may not even realize how sensitive this information is, and many won’t safeguard it even if they areaware of the risks involved with carrying it around with them and possibly losing it to theft or a moment of absent-mindedness. And when this work is sourced from the cloud rather than existing physically on an individual’s hard drive, it has the potential to make anyone attached to it dangerous.
  • It can be expensive. If your needs exceed the free level of a cloud storage company’s services, you could find yourself shelling out loads of cash — and the as your database of files grows, so will your monthly fees.
  • Security breaches have happened — and will happen again. The privacy policies of many cloud storage companies require you to allow them access to your data. Even if you employ a reputable cloud storage company, entrusting your business or personal secrets to the possibility of prying eyes can be cause for more than a little concern. This isn’t to say that external cloud storage companies won’t keep your data as safe as possible — they couldn’t stay in business if they didn’t. Still, you’re giving someone else the keys to your castle, and if someone — internally or externally — happens to steal the keys from your cloud storage company, the consequences could be dire.

Accessing Your Files from Beyond the Cloud with TappInLuckily, whether you’re using the cloud for personal reasons or you’re in charge of making it useful for your business, a service by the name of TappIn is around to improve upon the benefits of the cloud experience and alleviate its more alarming drawbacks. You don’t even have to think of TappIn as a replacement for cloud computing, but as a backup plan to the backup plan.

What is TappIn?

Most good ideas come from a personal place. A fellow by the name of Chris Hopen found that uploading pictures and videos of his kids per the mother-in-law’s requests via existing methods — email, online photo galleries, and video websites — was downright time-consuming. With life’s many other priorities taking precedence, he figured that there had to be a better way to remotely share this information with his mother-in-law in a way that wasn’t so intrusive. From this seed of an idea, TappIn was born.

As I demonstrate in the video above, TappIn brings all of your data to you by way of whatever interface you happen to prefer (or whichever happens to be closest to you at that moment) — quickly, securely, and without fuss. TappIn recently partnered with network attached storage (NAS) vendor QNAP, which means that users have access to their data from mobile devices as diverse as the Amazon Kindle Fire, Windows Phone 7, and those powered by Android and iOS.

What Can TappIn Do for You?

  • Even if you don’t need a lot of storage space, TappIn can give you instant and secure access to your data from any device.
  • TappIn allows you access to the data from any of your various cloud storage services — such as Dropbox, iCloud, SugarSync, Google Drive, etc.
  • Sensitive data is given an extra layer of protection through TappIn over popular cloud storage alternatives.
  • TappIn can be an excellent alternative to music streaming servces like iTunes Match.

I know, I know. As trustworthy as you may think me to be (or not — I won’t take it personally!), trying something like TappIn on for size may be a bigger step than you’d like to take on my word, alone. This is why TappIn has been kind enough to offer a TappIn Standard edition (if it’s just you using it) that’s a mere $19.99 per year. Those utilizing TappIn for larger business needs will be ecstatic to learn that they don’t have to pay much more (a modest $39.99 per year) for the maximum features of TappIn Professional. What sorts of features will TappIn provide? Have a look!