Laptop vs. Cloud?

I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not to bring my laptop with me on this six month jaunt around the world. The alternative would be to bring a large jump drive and an SD card reader (to get pictures off my digital camera) and function out of internet cafes… doing sort of a cloud computing thing, where everything that I “need” is done over the internet and stored remotely, backed up on both the jump drive and on a server somewhere.

Pros of Having my Laptop Cons of Having my Laptop
  • I can continue my language learning software
  • I can have a more secure way to deal with finances, I’ve always been uncomfortable doing that in internet cafes.
  • I have a bunch of books downloaded onto my Kindle-for-Mac for reading.
  • I will be able to save and edit photos using photoshop.
  • For both of my treks (Nepal & Ireland), I don’t want to take it with me and will have to find a hotel that will keep it “secure” for me.
  • It is something I would rather not have stolen.
Pros of Using Cloud Cons of Using Cloud
  • I’m not carrying my laptop, it can’t get stolen.
  • I don’t have to arrange possibly questionably secure storage for it.
  • Packing more lightly.
  • I don’t have access to anything listed under “pros of carrying laptop”
  • Low possibility of high speed internet connection.

Any of you fellow travelers and/or computer nerds, your input on this matter (did I forget any pros and cons?) would be appreciated.

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4 Responses to Laptop vs. Cloud?

  1. Erin says:

    I really wish I had had the ability to edit photos and draft blog posts/emails when I was in Nepal (especially on days when it’s completely rainy and gross or everyone else has gone to bed early). It would have been nice to decrease the time spent in internet cafes and to have used them only for uploading!

  2. Erin says:

    Follow-up – Have you contacted the trekking companies to see if they offer any type of secured storage?

  3. melissa says:

    Some internet geek advice – I obviously don’t know a ton about Indian internet cafes, but I don’t think in general a shared public computer is substantially less secure for financial work than the shared or public wi-fi networks you’d be using on your laptop. Those are easy to spy on.

    People think of financial transactions the internet as being super dangerous, but thieves’ most common methods are wholesale bank hacks – much more efficient than hacking a network and hoping an American girl checks her bank balance there – and exploiting physical weaknesses – someone running your debit card through a scanner at a restaurant or stealing statements. Or perhaps stealing your laptop.

    Whether you choose to bring your laptop or not, change your log-in pins and passwords often, and maybe see if you can’t do some easy stuff, like checking balances or transfers between accounts, over the phone.

    Also, know your banks’ policies for how much you’ll be accountable for if your identity is stolen, especially if you have time to open an account or get a credit card at a better one before you leave. American Express has a wonderful reputation for going above and beyond to help customers in trouble in other countries. My main bank, ING Direct, lets me create an access code that finance software (like Quicken or Mint) can use instead of my login pin to access a read-only version of my account, keeping my pin and accounts safe and allowing me to check the balances securely. So, see what your bank has in place.

    And then don’t worry about it! I promise, your identity is much likelier to be stolen when you feel perfectly safe and least expect it! 😀

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