Q: I’m under the impression that the Google Chrome browser and the Google services Gmail, Drive and Picasa store all my data in the Google cloud. That means if my laptop or Android phone crashes or gets lost, I can retrieve my data. Am I right or wrong?

Karen Hillger, Garrison, Minn.


A: It’s a little more complicated than that. Google Drive (file storage), Gmail (e-mail and e-mail attachment storage) and Google Photos (picture storage) automatically store your data to the cloud. But Google’s Chrome browser and its Picasa photo editing program require you to take action before data is stored online.

Because Picasa is a downloadable photo editing program, it normally stores pictures on your computer, not in the cloud. You must manually select and upload the pictures that you want to store in the cloud using a program feature called “Picasa Web Albums.”

To save Chrome’s settings (such as bookmarks, history and saved passwords) in the cloud, you must sign into Google with your Gmail address and password while using Chrome. See tinyurl.com/p5ywwhw.

Once you sign in, changes you make in the browser’s settings and saved data will be copied to the cloud. If you sign out, new changes won’t be copied online.

But backing up your data to the cloud only works if you have enough online storage capacity. Google Drive, Gmail and Photos (including Picasa online photos) share 15 gigabytes of free cloud storage. (Chrome settings use little online storage space.) If you need more cloud storage capacity, you can buy it from Google for $2 a month per 100 gigabytes.

Why would you need that much additional capacity? Your pictures could rapidly eat up your 15 gigabytes of free cloud storage.

If you set Photos to save your pictures at their original quality (several megabytes per picture), each photo will count against your storage limit, and you’ll get to 15 gigabytes before long. But if you set Photos to save your pictures at an unspecified lower quality, Google doesn’t even count them against your 15 gigabyte limit. What’s the trade-off? Saving the photos at lower quality means they will be “compressed,” a technique that permanently subtracts some data from them. Compression will limit your ability to enlarge those pictures in the future.


Q: The top row of keys on the keyboard of our HP Pavilion G7 laptop PC have stopped working. I’ve read online that other owners of that model are having similar problems, but none of the suggested fixes seems to work. Is it time to buy a replacement keyboard, or is there a solution?

Paul Holt, Lakeland, Fla.


A: There doesn’t appear to be a simple solution because no one can agree whether the cause is software or a faulty electrical connection. I suggest you buy a replacement keyboard online for less than $25. For a video on how to replace the old keyboard, see tinyurl.com/pbes4sr.


E-mail tech questions to steve.j.alexander@gmail.com or write to Tech Q&A, 650 3rd Av. S., Suite 1300, ­Minneapolis, MN 55488. Include name, city and telephone number.