Google Productivity Pad: What is the Cloud?

Monday, March 18, 2013

What is the Cloud?

There is a lot out there now about Cloud storage, and if you are using an iOS device at all you are almost guaranteed to be using some cloud features, so I though I would just take a minute here to explain simply what "the cloud" is. The cloud really is not anything new and most of us have been using it for years even before it picks up its name.

Put simply a cloud storage system is when you access files that are not on your own computer (or phone, or tablet) via the internet. For example if you have a gmail account, when somebody sends you an email it is stored on the gmail servers, those servers are huge computers with ginormous amounts of storage in some warehouse far away from you. Your email stays in these computer and when you want to see it you get onto your electronic device and via the internet you access google's servers to look at your mail.

So the truth is you have been using cloud storage for email basically since the invention of the internet. In recent years the big thing has been for people to start storing every kind of file on huge servers. For example if you use FaceBook all of your FaceBook photos are stored on the FaceBook computers somewhere, essentially in the "FaceBook cloud." If you use Evernote all of your documents are stored on the Evernote servers in the "Evernote cloud." When you back up your iPad that information is stored on Apple's servers in the "iCloud" and so on. Anything you can access from the internet is stored in the cloud.

So don't get confused when you see something say that its a cloud service, or that it will sync through the cloud, all that means is that whatever files you give them will be stored on their servers and that you can then access those from your computer or device.

The benefit to iPad users of the cloud is that it allows you to access many files and types of files without clogging up your iPad's limited memory, it also allows for easy syncing. For example I start a not on Evernote on my iPad, then that is uploaded to the Evernote server so later when I'm home and I want to  work on that note on my MacBook it automatically gets pulled down from the server and you have it there. So it is really nice an convenient, when your internet is working, that is.

The danger of the cloud is two things. The first is that if you don't have internet connection you are sunk to access files stored in the cloud. The second is that if the service you are using gets hacked (like almost every major company has in the last year) your personal data could be compromised. The important thing is to weigh these dangers against the benefits when you are storing stuff in the cloud. I like the cloud, but I do think you should be smart about what clouds you choose to use and what you put into them.

That's all for now, and remember, live better.

1 comment:

  1. Here's a video I think you'll enjoy about HP's Cloud Services: