What is ‘The Cloud’?

Last month, in my article about backing up your data I mentioned ‘the cloud’. Some of you may have wondered what it meant so this month I will try and explain what ‘the cloud’ is.

What is ‘The Cloud’?

Is it the white fluffy things in the sky?

No! Definitely not, although the name ‘the cloud’ may have come from cloud-shaped outlines that early computer experts surrounded an external system of computers when drawing technical flowcharts.

The ‘Cloud’ vs ‘Cloud Computing’

The cloud refers to software and services that run on the Internet, instead of locally on your computer and in the simplest terms, cloud computing means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet. The cloud is a physical infrastructure, its many computers housed in massive warehouses all over the world. More literally, ‘the cloud’ refers to the Internet in general.

What ‘the cloud’ isn’t

Cloud computing is not about your hard drive. When you store data on or run programs from the hard drive, it is called local storage and computing. Storing data on a home or office network also does not count as using the cloud either.

How do I use the cloud?

Most cloud services can be accessed through a web browser such as Firefox or Google Chrome, and via smartphone or tablet mobile apps. If you use a smartphone, it is most likely that you are already using the cloud. Examples of cloud services include Google’s services (gmail, Drive), Apple iCloud, Netflix, Yahoo Mail, Dropbox, Flickr, Instagram and Microsoft OneDrive.

Advantages and disadvantages

An advantage of the cloud is that you can access your information on any device with an Internet connection. Cloud services also allow you to store and view your entire photo or music collection, without fear of maxing out your laptop or smartphone’s internal storage. Another benefit of the cloud is that, because the remote servers handle much of the computing and storage, you don’t need an expensive, high-end computer to get your work done.

The most spoken of disadvantages include data privacy and the fact that you need a decent internet connection to access your files and use cloud services.

I hope this (very) short article helps to explain ‘the cloud’!

This ‘Technology’ article was written for an expat magazine in Spain. The readers of this magazine are often middle to old aged and not very technology minded so we have designed the articles with these people in mind, however they can be enjoyed by everyone, and perhaps even the most up-to-date techie may find them of interest too!

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