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Feature: The Single Greatest Feature to Revolutionize Your Netbook Experience

Netbooks are sweeping the world and providing us with an affordable mobile computing solution. Even if you already own a laptop, it may not be so nice to lug around that 15-inch monster when all you need is a little bit of quick web surfing. Netbooks are also generally cheaper than their larger counterparts.

At the same time, netbooks are certainly not without their shortcomings. They don’t have the same kind of processing power and many of them don’t have the same kind of storage capacity either. In looking to innovate the industry, the single greatest feature that will change the way you approach a netbook is quite simple: cloud computing.

The idea isn’t new, but cloud computing could become a really big thing for netbook users.

What is Cloud Computing?

For those of you who aren’t quite as familiar, cloud computing is the idea that you don’t need to have everything stored locally on your computer. Instead, the goods can be stashed in a “cloud” that can then be accessed by any Internet-connected device. This way, your documents are not bound to a single computer.

This is similar to the idea of having a network-attached storage solution in your home or office, but it goes much further than that. All of those goods can be accessed from anywhere and not just from your network. And this can be a terrific way to get so much more out of your netbook

Why are the Clouds Perfect for Netbooks?

Most of us prefer sunny days, but the clouds are much more appropriate for our netbooks. With cloud computing, everything that you need can be stashed away on a server somewhere. You don’t have to worry about losing that data, because it’s probably backed up on redundant hard drives too.

Naturally, you’ll need to overcome some of your concerns about security and privacy issues when partaking in cloud computing. It also means that you may want to avoid uploading some of your more risque content. Let’s just leave that at that.

No Need for Real Desktop Storage

While you could certainly invest in one of the more expensive netbooks and get a hard drive with 80GB or 160GB of storage space, the cheaper ones can oftentimes only come with a mere 8GB solid state drive. What are you supposed to do with all of those photos, videos, and music.

A quick poke around the Internet will reveal a number of affordable or even free solutions where you can stash your content. For pictures, you can have everything uploaded onto Flickr, for example. If you don’t want them to be public, they can all be marked as private and then only you (and the people who select) can view them. For videos, you can upload them to something like YouTube and, again, mark them as private should you so choose.

No Need for Real Desktop Programs

The concept of cloud computing for your netbook doesn’t just apply to the documents and files themselves, but also for the applications as well. You’ll notice that Google and other companies have developed online equivalent applications to the programs you use on your computer. Instead of installing Microsoft Office on your netbook, hogging up storage space and taking up valuable resources, you can just use Google Documents and Spreadsheets.

Continuing along this trend, you’ll find that you need little more than a properly equipped web browser on your netbook to handle most of your basic tasks. Want to play some games? There are plenty of sites with free Flash-based games. Want to concoct a few reports? Google Docs is there. Need to edit an image? There are solutions like Pixlr.

Never Bound to a Single Location

When approaching your netbook as a secondary computer, you have to think about it in a slightly different way. It’s not really appropriate to view a netbook in the same light that you view your full notebook or desktop, because that’s not what it’s meant to be.

Cloud computing can allow you to get so much more out of your netbook. You just have to be willing to take the plunge.

About Michael Kwan

A freelance writer and tech geek from Vancouver. Find me at michaelkwan.com and follow me on Twitter @michaelkwan.

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