What is an account? How can I create one?

A simple tutorial to figure out what a registration of an account is for, with an in-depth analysis of Gmail for Google Android and Apple ID for iPhone and iCloud.


The concept of "Account", if you don't know what it is, might seem something difficult to understand. It is actually a very simple thing to understand. Long story short: it is the sum of an Username and a Password. But let's analyze the concept in more detail:

Basic explanations

There are billions of people connected to the internet, and there are also many websites that offers personalized content, or allow you to create content, different for each users and that must be hidden to the other users of the platform.
Think of your home banking: you want to see your balance, but you want it to remain private. Other examples are social networks like Facebook, Instagram or any other: each user has a list of friends and pages that follows, and the contents are different for each person that uses the same service. But how can a website understand that you are the person to whom show a certain content? You must be able to make yourselves recognized.

First of all, you need to have an email address. Email addresses are those with the @, and are unique: no one could have the same email address all over the world. Once you register your personal email, it will become impossible for anyone else make one exactly identical as yours. In order to be identified on the internet, generally, we rely on the e-mail address (or an username, as we'll see later).
In order to have an email it is necessary to register with a "provider" (the company who offers an email service). This means that we must give our name, surname, date of birth and often other peronal data to a company that will provide us an email address. For security reason, you are asked to also choose a password, which should be known only by the person who is registering the email address. This makes hard for anyone to read someone else's emails because, even if they know their address, they does not know the password. It's like to know the address of someone: you can go in front of his house, but you cannot enter, because you don't have the keys (the password). Among the most famous email providers there are Google (gmail), Microsoft (outlook), Apple (me.com), etc...

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So what does it mean to register an account? It's simple: you've just registered your email address and you have choosed one password? Perfect, you have just created your first account. An Email Account. From here on, things get simpler. You already have an email address, and for most website that's enough to identify you. To open another account, you just have to press "Register", give your email, choose a password (that should be different for security reasons) and you can create all the accounts you want, without having to give your personal data every time (name, surname, etc.) although sometimes they are still needed. Imagine, for example, creating an account for an online store, obviously it will be necessary to know your real name and address, to be able to send the goods to your home.

What is a username?

Above we wrote that you need an email in order to create an account. This is not exact. Many websites allows you to hide your email address, or even don't give it at all. Instead of an email address you are allowed to choose a username, that is a unique name, but without the @. In fact you can use any letter or symbol you want, the important is that nobody on that website uses the same username as you. On some website the term username is used as synonymous of email address, that is wrong and makes things a little messy: they are different things. An email address must look like name@something.com. The part before the @ is up to you, the part after the @ defines your provider and is mandatory. On the other side a username could be anything, as example @#MyNameIs123#@ and should be completely up to you if you wanto to use only letters, numbers, symbols or a combination of anything. An username could also be a number, as example Whatsapp uses your phone number to create your account.

The importance of passwords

login and password

There are many different services on internet, starting from the above mentioned purchases in online stores, that excellent for those who lives far from large cities and its shops, like me. There are forums where you can discuss your interests, social networks like Instagram or Facebook where we can share our activities, blogs and websites where we can read and write anything we like. As we've seen, to access and create content on most online services, you will first need to register an account in order to be identified. Almost everyone is registered on dozens of websites, and everyone should always try to remember their login data. It sounds strange, but many people hardly remember the passwords they use, some don't even remember their email address. In fact, username and password are informations that must be taken seriously. I like to compare them to the bunch of keys in your pocket, I bet you pay attention to them. Your "password collection" should deserve at least the same attention. So you should choose a password that's hard to guess and almost impossible to forget. Use symbols, meaningless words, nicknames, dates, whatever you want, but try to come up with a safe one. It's really important to avoid words with a meaning, because are really easy to guess, you can combine letters and symbols for more security. As instance password or 123456 are the weaker password you can ever choose, but 123!password456! could be a tought one. Be smart.

There are two other things worth mentioning: Use multiple passwords: at least three different ones. Depending on the service you connect to you should use a different attention. A simple password can be used for less relevant things (entertainment sites, forums, etc ..), a password of medium difficulty should be used for medium important things (video games, secondary email addresses, e-commerce sites without payment info, etc. and finally a very secure password for important services like your primary email adress, home banking, or the ones with payment infos (as example PayPal). This is because the more important is the service, the more security there is. If an hacker is able to steal your password from the "hunting and fishing forum", he should not be able to use the same password to access your bank account. If you use the same password, you will allow anyone to enter in any of your account, and this is crazy.
The second thing to say is that passwords distinguish between uppercase and lowercase letters. To better understand, "PasSwoRd" is different from "password". So it is a good practice to use some capital letters and some symbols. An example of another fairly secure password could be "ILoveChocolate100%". Obviously the one I use is completely different, even if I love chocolate.

Importance of an account in mobile phones era

Now that almost anyone has a smartphone in his pocket the registration of an account is even more important. There are a lot of advantages if you have an account of the manifacturer of your phone. Actually there are two main players: Apple with its iPhone and iPad and Google, that is the developer of Android, that is used in almost every other phone in the market: Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, Motorola, Sony and so on.
The developers of operting systems like Andorid (Google) and iOS (Apple) provides more than a simple phone: you can download different apps from the stores, you can buy music, movies, books and newspapers. You can use emails, calendar, maps or set up a cloud backup solution.

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Cloud backup of your data in your account

As I stated above, there are thousands of services that are offered by registering the right account for your product: social networks, online videogames and many others, but one is absolutely the most important: the one of the developer of your phone.
If you have an Android phone, software is provided by Google, and you will need a Gmail account. That's the only option, something@gmail.com and it gives you access to a huge number of Google services as: Google Play, Google Drive, Google Maps, Youtube, Google News, Google Photo, Google Translator and many other.
On the other side there is Apple and its Apple ID. You can use any email you want to create an Apple account, it also gives you the access to many Apple services as App store and Apple Store, Apple Maps, iCloud, iTunes, Facetime and many others.
On both operating systems there is one function that I believe is more important than any other: Online backup. Let's create an ideal situation: you have a phone full of pictures, videos, phone numbers, reminders of important things and coversations. For some reason the phone breaks or worse, it is stolen from you. You will immediately think: It's a disaster!!!.

Not necessarily. For some years now, smartphones have been able to copy important informations “on the clouds", it means that, if you want it, you will be able to activate a function that will allow your phone to sync all the data you want, as phone numbers, pictures, calendar or anything else, using internet in a "cloud service". But what does "in the cloud" means in simple terms? It simply means "in the computer of someone else". In this specific case, on the servers of Google or Apple, generally in the USA. These data are accessible only inside your account and only after you have typed your username and password.

Let's repeat the concept in an even simpler way: The phone sends all the data that you decide to share to the manufacturer, which will keep "on his computers" a backup copy, in case you have trouble with the phone. That way, if you lose or break your smartphone, you just have to buy another of the same type, type your username and password and the phone will download everything again from internet. This function is extremely convenient if it is used wisely, but I am convinced that there are some people who inadvertently share data without even knowing it. I suggest everyone to spend some time to check the various settings of the privacy of their devices, just to make sure there are no unwanted shares.
Copying data to the "cloud" is a function that is really a godsend. Think about the convenience of having your contacts, all calendar appointments, emails, text notes and all the various documents safe "in the cloud", on the servers of your favorite company, all backed up in case of smartphone breakage or loss. Not bad.
There are obviously many privacy risks, which you can easily imagine, but the advantages are undoubtedly greater than the disadvantages, especially if you make a conscious use of what you share and you use a secure password.

How do I access this data?

In the case your devices is unusable, the easies way to view the data you have "in the cloud" into your account is to access with a computer to the manufacturer's website. If you are using a stranger computer should be a good idea to use an "incognito window" of the browser, or simply remember to logout at the end of the session. When you reach the correct website, just enter your credentials (username and password) and you will have access the most of your informations contained in the cloud of your account. Next we will see, for both Google and Apple, the most commonly used cloud services. Remember that there are hundreds of companies that allows you to backup your files on the cloud, but these are the only two who also makes phones, so theyr services are natively installed on your device. For both Google and Apple there are other services that will be accessible after you have created your account, like translations, music, health and so on.
I will repeat it till I'll become boring: you have to remember your login details to access all the data, so it's really important to memorize your email and password. Imagine to be on a foreign country, with a broken phone and the address of the hotel, or an important number, on the cloud, but you can't remember the password.

If you want to check what you are sharing, or if you want to be sure that your important files are really backed up, you can follow the links down here. I suggest you to use a computer. Not everything you share is shown on the next links.

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