Are you looking for the most useful gift? Look to the cloud

Cloud computing has quickly found its way into every corner of our lives.

It can be a great help for job search and career advancement. It’s the mainstay of the work-from-home movement. And those digital nomads who work and play from multiple locations are always able to access the systems they need.

It is equally valuable for our leisure. The age of physical media is rapidly disappearing, with virtually all forms of entertainment now being delivered remotely.

So while we admit that a “cloud computing gift guide” might be an unusual name, it’s probably something you’ve considered in the past when looking for the best gift for that friend, business associate. or be expensive. And even better? Most of the items we suggest make great last-minute suggestions.

Here are some cloud-based ideas for the 2022 holiday season.

Buy a single video game at your local GameStop or Walmart, and you’ll get prizes up to $80 each. But for just $15 a month, you can get a subscription to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which offers hundreds of titles, including new releases from the company’s growing roster of studios. Within seconds of selecting a title, members are in the game – and they can stop playing on one device (console, PC, smartphone or tablet, or stream directly to your smart TV) and resume playing on another in exactly the same place where they pressed pause.

While vinyl and cassettes are making a comeback, when it comes to discovering and listening to music today, there is no equivalent to streaming services. A virtually limitless catalog of music is at your fingertips, making both the workday a little less mundane and your personal time more exciting. Free options are available, but ads quickly become intrusive. Premium subscriptions usually start around $10 per month. Beyond music, there are also thousands of podcasts and, with Spotify, on-demand audiobooks.

You’ve heard the advice time and time again: have a different, hard-to-guess password for every site you log into. The problem is this: it’s hard to track them, and finding passwords is tricky. 1Password stores your data for different sites in the cloud, allowing you to have a separate login wherever you go, but you only need to remember your master password. Data is encrypted, so your personal and financial information stays safe.

It’s convenient to be able to access your files wherever and whenever you want, but sometimes it’s an act of trust to upload them to a third-party service, no matter how reviewed or acclaimed they are. An alternative is a personal cloud system. Western Digital, for example, offers four terabytes of storage that connects to your computer for around $200, with no monthly fees. It’s a small step into the cloud for people who aren’t ready to trust their files, photos, and documents to a company like Amazon, Google, or Apple.

If you share a number of files for work, you probably don’t want to do so through personal systems, such as iCloud or Google Drive, where personal information is stored. Dropbox is the preferred alternative for professionals, with over 700 million users. Pricing starts at $10 per month for two terabytes, and increases in price and storage capacity from there.

Not everything cloud-related has to be high-tech. Sometimes silliness is just what the holidays call for. Have an engineer or data scientist on your list and can’t quite find the right fit? Etsy, as it so often does, can come to the rescue, with a sarcastic cloud-based t-shirt for under $20 that will be a talking point at work.

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

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About Mariel Baker

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