How to: Utilise the Cloud on iOS, Android and Windows Phone

Callum Tennent
May 27, 2014

Are you still actually using your phone for data storage? Time to think outside of the box grandad, quite literally: Cloud computing has well and truly arrived.

The Cloud exists across various form of mobile operating system, in multiple incarnations. It is entirely ethereal, allowing you to store your files and data on some server potentially thousands of miles away, seamlessly, easily and without wires. If you’re still wasting your phone’s precious in-built storage on things like documents and photos, you’re doing it wrong. Here’s how to get the most out of the Cloud on your mobile device.


The great thing about Apple products has always been their unique, tailor-made features. Cloud computing is no different, as iPhone, iPad and later-generation iPod users are treated to iCloud. So long as you’re running iOS 5.0 or later you’ll be able to utilise it. It’s all made as simple as possible for you, so let’s take a look.

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Step 1: Open the Settings app on your device. It’s pre-installed on every iOS portable and impossible to delete, so don’t worry about not being able to find it. By default it should be located last on your home screen.

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Step 2: Scroll down to the fourth block of menu options and first on the list is iCloud. Select it.

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Step 3: You will be prompted to sign in with your Apple ID. That’s the same information you use whenever you download anything on your device – your email address and your chosen password. If you’ve not already set one up you can create one here, too. Once your info is all entered, tap Done.

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Step 4: You’ll now see a screen listing a whole number of different types of data. Mail, Contacts, Calendars, Photos and more are all present, each with a slider to the right hand side of it. Move the slider to the right and it’ll leave a green trail – this is how you know that iCloud is storing data of that kind. If you don’t wish for iCloud to store it, simply swipe left and it will be left greyed out. The data will be stored solely on your handset. And with that, you’re done! It’s that simple.

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Step 5 (Optional): If you wish to see how your iCloud space is being managed, scroll to the bottom of the screen and select Storage & Backup. From here you can see your Total Storage (the default amount is 5GB), the Available storage (how much you haven’t used up yet) and even Buy More Storage, should you find 5GB to not be sufficient. For the more paranoid amongst you, you can also force a manual backup by selecting Back Up Now.


The beauty of the Android platform is that despite the huge variety of handsets and software out there, they all function on the same basic level. With that said, this guide should apply to all Android handsets – however, there may well be a few small differences. We’ll try to cover all the bases though. For reference, the handset from which the screenshots are garnered is an HTC One Max. We’ll be walking you through Google Drive, the default Cloud storage app for Android.


Step 1: Find out if Google Drive pre-installed on your handset, or if you need to download it. The simplest way to do this (if you don’t know whether you have it already) is to go to the Google Play store. The app can either be found on your home screen or within your device’s apps section. Search the store for Google Drive. You should see a screen just like the one shown here. If it says Download then go ahead and tap on that. If it’s already installed on your phone that button will instead say Open. Tapping on that will take you directly to the app. On our HTC handset, Google Drive was saved within a folder named Productivity (no€¦we don’t know why either).

Step 2: Once you’ve opened the app for the first time, you should see a screen that looks something like this. The app will tell you to Swipe up to begin. Go ahead!


Step 3: The app will walk you through the key features of Google Drive, including Upload (putting things on the Cloud) and Share (which lets you show off your Cloud data to others). Finally you’ll land at a page informing you of just how much Cloud space you’re being given on Google Drive. As you can see our HTC came with 65GB, although this will vary from handset to handset. 65GB is more than enough for most. If you haven’t already activated it, tap Redeem and you will begin your free Google Drive membership. If you’ve done that, tap Go to Drive at the bottom of the screen.


Step 4: You’re now looking at your Google Drive home screen. It’ll show you all the files you currently have stored on the Cloud. You can choose to Upload, from which you can put files on the Cloud, Create, which lets you separate files into individual albums, and Scan, which lets you create .PDF files using your device’s camera.


Step 5 (Optional): If you want to delve into the more complex features of your Google Drive, tap on the logo in the top-left hand corner of your screen. This will reveal a menu allowing you to see your Cloud files arranged through a variety of filters, such as Starred (your favourites) and Shared with me (Cloud-based files shared with you by other users). You can also switch Google Drive accounts from here, too.

If Google Drive isn’t to your tastes, there’s a variety of Android apps out there for you to experiment with, including desktop-favourite Dropbox. Give them a whirl and see which suits your needs best.

Windows Phone

Finally we have our third operating system Windows Phone. As Windows Phone is a product of Microsoft we get access to OneDrive. It’s a great piece of software – thanks to Microsoft’s years of experience in home computing, OneDrive makes accessing files across desktop and mobile a breeze. We’re using it on a Nokia Lumia 625 running Windows Phone version 8.0, its latest stable release.


Step 1: Go to the Windows Phone Store. On your device it should be the tile on your home screen which looks like a little shopping bag with the Windows logo on it, as you can see here.


Step 2: Search for OneDrive. This is what the correct result should look like. It’s completely free, so go ahead and tap Install.


Step 3: Once the installation is complete, return to your device’s home screen and swipe from right to left. This will take you to your full list of apps. They’re in alphabetical order, so you may have to scroll down a bit before you see OneDrive. Its icon is blue, with a white cloud. Tap on it to open.


Step 4: You’ll be presented with this screen, asking you to Sign in. Tap it to be taken to the sign in screen, which will ask you for your Microsoft account and password. If you’re unsure what your Microsoft account is, it’s the email address through which you access just about everything, including Outlook. Go ahead and sign in.


Step 5: You’ll now be looking at the main screen for OneDrive. In fact, it’s just about the only screen the app has to offer. At the top of your screen you can see what range of files you’re looking at, from all of them, to Recent, to Shared. It’s that simple.


Step 6 (Optional): If you tap on the ellipse at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, you bring up an advanced menu for OneDrive. Within it you can Add new folders, Select multiple files at once, or Search for specific files. You can also switch accounts under the Settings menu.


Your Windows Phone might also come with the ability to back up your handset via its in-built Cloud service. Very handy indeed.

Step 1: To find out if you can, head back to your phone’s apps list and tap on Settings. From here, scroll down until you see an option called Backup. Give it a tap.


Step 2: Here, you’re presented with three basic categories for backup – App list + settings (which will save all of your apps and your customised settings), text messages (yep, that one saves your texts), and photos (take a guess). If you wish to back any of these up to the Cloud simply tap on your desired choice.


Step 3: You will see a little slider to the right of your screen – move it to the On position and tap Back up now. This will manually create a backup of your media of choice, and continue to do so automatically from now on. If you wish to create backups of all three of the previously mentioned options, you’re free to do so. Congratulations, you can drop your phone down the toilet with impunity.

About the Author

Callum Tennent

International playboy/tech journalist.

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