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Digitalcumulus: Understanding the Cloud

 

By Richard Myers

Computing has come a long way since the early days of floppy drives and dial-up internet connections. Things that were once the fodder of science fiction novelists the world over, have suddenly become an integral part of our daily lives. Handheld screens that let you talk face-to-face to anyone, whether they’re across town or half-way across the world? Check. Programs that can design and model complex structures, and give detailed information on integrity during simulated events such as earthquakes? Yep – that’s a thing. While there are countless ‘futuristic” technologies that are used in our daily lives, one of the most nebulous (both literally and metaphorically) is the “Cloud.”

What is the Cloud?

At this point in the 21st century, pretty much everyone has heard of the mysterious Cloud. Dropbox keeps your loose documents and files there – so does Google. Companies like Redpixie offer you the chance to take your business into the Cloud. While knowing that your personal and professional life is safely ensconced in the all-encompassing Cloud can help you rest easy at night because… well, wait. Why should that make you rest easy again?

–          The Cloud acts as a backup for your files, and allows you to store them remotely. You’re no longer dependent on one computer, hard drive, memory stick, or other losable / breakable device for protecting all of your most valuable data!

–          Hosting your files on the cloud, whether they’re for personal or professional use, means that you can access them from almost anywhere! You no longer have to use the same computer in order to work with your files, as they can be accessed (depending on permissions) from virtually anywhere!

Ok, so now that we’ve reminded ourselves why keeping our digital belongings in the Cloud is good, what is it again? The way the word is bandied around by bloggers, entrepreneurs, and just about anyone else who can find a use for it, you might think that the answer is going to be complex – don’t worry though, it’s simpler than you think!

–          The Cloud is simply another way of describing the internet. Whereas individuals used to be responsible for storing their own information locally (meaning on their own computer or memory devices), the Cloud represents the plethora of online storage options and services now available to the user.

–          As mentioned earlier, Dropbox and Google Drive both offer free storage solutions for individuals looking to backup important files, or looking for an easy way to ensure access to them no matter what computer they’re using! Other services like Cloudamour target businesses, and help them ascend their entire operation into the Cloud!

Using the Cloud: The Good, the Bad, and the Confused

Since the Cloud is basically just another way of talking about the internet, it might seem like a no-brainer that everyone uses it to its fullest potential; it’s not like anyone ever uses the valuable resource that is the Web for anything but productive professional and educational pursuits, right? In actuality, using the Cloud is like most things in life – it has positives, negatives, and leaves a lot of people confused about whether or not it’s actually worth it.

The Good

Without a doubt, most people and businesses find that using the Cloud to backup and store their data reaps more benefits than problems it might sew.

–          Having remote access to important information can be a great asset in a variety of situations, and backing up your data somewhere that does not rely on a physical piece of hardware sitting in your bedroom or cubicle means that you have a much greater chance of recovering your work in the event of an accident.

–          Hosting files in the Cloud is also a great way to facilitate collaboration and sharing, and a free exchange of ideas is never a bad thing to encourage.

The Bad

Just as all coins have two sides, so too do most good things have the potential to be bad. Some of the biggest positives about using the Cloud can also be catalysts for some of the downsides.

–          Sharing and collaboration are great when it’s intentional, but files hosted in the Cloud are “out there” in a way that the files on a flashdrive or other physical memory device are not. While security issues can be mitigated greatly through the use of a quality company like Google, Dropbox, or Cloudamour, there is always that risk.

–          Having access to your files from any computer is great, and not relying too heavily on one machine or drive makes it much less likely that an accident sidelines your efforts. That being said, files hosted in the Cloud can be hard to reach if there is an issue with your internet connectivity, or a problem with the service hosting the file itself.

The Confused

Despite the fact that The Bad aspects of using the Cloud are usually few and far between, there are many individuals and businesses that are reticent to commit themselves to using this powerful technology. Businesses are especially reluctant to embrace the change, as they handle sensitive data and rely on smooth day-to-day operation. While the concern is certainly understandable, any business unsure about the risk vs. reward of taking things to the Cloud should click here to find out more about the numbers behind the confusion

Today it’s the Cloud, Tomorrow…?

Taking data to the Cloud is the work of today, but it was only a few decades ago that words like “webpage” and “internet” were nothing more than twinkles in a researcher’s eye. These technologies don’t grow in a linear fashion, and using pat innovations like the Cloud help spur on an exponential growth model. Today people are debating whether or not to take their data to the Cloud, but tomorrow the Cloud will be just as interwoven into daily life as social media or the search engine; the question is, what will the next “Cloud” be?

About the Author
Richard Myers is an app developer, tech buff and an overall geek. Years of working with servers of all kinds has endowed him with the knowledge that he now likes sharing with anyone who needs his help.

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