Ditch your PC for a Chromebook: can you live entirely in the cloud?

Amazon Cloud Player is another alternative, so unless you absolutely can't live without iTunes, there are some decent options available.

Alternatively, you can pay £21.99/AU$34.99/US$24.99 a year for iTunes Match to store your existing library online - you won't be able to access it through a browser, but you can still get your music on your portable Apple devices and Apple TV.

Switchability: 8/10

Online music services are in good health, and you can even take your existing MP3 collection with you if you wish.


Can you live entirely in the cloud?

Netflix offers plenty of TV and movie choices, but may not have your favourites on offer

Netflix, Lovefilm Instant, Blinkbox, YouTube/Google Play and the new Vdio all offer ways for you to get your movie or TV fix, and then there's the likes of BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and 4oD on the web.

If you've purchased a lot of movies and shows from iTunes, you can re-download these to an Apple device at any time, but you can't watch them in a web browser. If they are free of DRM protection, you can upload local video files to a service such as Dropbox or Google Drive and stream them from there, but you'll need to shell out a substantial amount for the storage space.

For home movies, one option would be to upload them to YouTube free of charge (and set them as private or public accordingly), but anything copyrighted (like the Downton Abbey box set) is likely to land you in hot water.

Switchability: 7/10

Another area where there are plenty of services to choose from, but many will prefer their own local library.


Can you live entirely in the cloud?

Google Drive's offline mode enables you to view and edit documents without internet

One of the biggest issues with living in the cloud is that losing your internet connection means losing just about everything else. If your internet breaks, or you need to leave the house, you can find yourself severely restricted.

While any laptop is crippled to some extent without web access, at least you can still work on documents and play music and video stored locally. We're not yet at the stage where you can guarantee a connection wherever you go, and that has to be a concern for regular travellers, even with Google Drive's improving offline support.

A 3G/4G-enabled Chromebook can help, but adds to the cost of your hardware.

Switchability: 6/10

Until Wi-Fi becomes more ubiquitous and easy to access outside the home, this will always be a worry for people weighing up cloud-based computing.

Verdict: can you live in the cloud?

Living in the cloud is becoming easier with each passing day - note the recent upgrade to Google Drive's offline capabilities, and the launch of Spotify's web player, for example.

For anyone coming fresh to the world of computing, without any connection to existing apps or gigabytes' worth of data, a web-only life has a lot going for it.

For the rest of us, switching is now possible and in many areas quite easy to do; but if you're dependent on desktop apps such as Photoshop, iTunes and Excel, or you can't afford to shift the contents of your hard drive up into the cloud, then you'll have reservations. Unfortunately for Google and ChromeOS, that's a lot of users.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.