Thursday, May 8, 2014

264- What Is the Cloud?

Are you hesitant to use cloud-based services simply because you do not actually understand what they are? Did you know there are alternative services available for your business? Read more...

What Is the Cloud?

There are enough technology-related terms floating around these days to make your head spin. One of the latest to be bandied about is "the cloud." This word is no longer reserved for those visible masses of condensed water vapor suspended in the atmosphere. The cloud now refers to a new world in cyberspace. Understanding the cloud and its benefits can streamline your life.

The Cloud Defined

The cloud is often used as a metaphor for the Internet, where millions of people spend time each day. In 2012, Gartner predicted that the cloud would hold one-third of our digital content by 2013. According to IDC, the amount of information in the world doubles approximately every 18 months. These statistics indicate that the cloud holds a massive amount of information and will only continue to expand.

Photographs stored on Flickr or Instagram, music streaming from Pandora, and movies watched on Amazon or Netflix are all examples of information stored on the cloud and accessible within seconds. Email, webmail, and other Internet services comprise the cloud. Cloud computing refers to applications that are hosted or run on Internet servers. Flickr, Instagram, Pandora, and other companies offering Internet services store media on servers or massive server farms.

Benefits of Using Cloud Services

Cloud services and cloud computing offer many advantages to everyone from the average consumer to entrepreneurs running all types and sizes of businesses. The cloud allows media to reside somewhere other than on a particular device such as a computer hard drive, memory card, or CD. This makes it possible to access this media from multiple devices. For example, email can be checked on a desktop, laptop, or tablet computer. Cloud storage devices offer file storage, making it easier to access documents, spreadsheets, and presentations from any connected device.

When information is stored in the cloud, it is backed up on a server. Therefore, if the computer hard drive crashes, the owner can still access it from a different computer. Cloud-based services also require less computing power, making life easier on connected devices. Music streamed through Pandora, for example, does not consume as much space on a computer hard drive as the songs would if stored entirely on the drive.

Cloud services are available to everyone and require only an Internet connection. Whether people connect through a dedicated network or public Wi-Fi, they can access their email, photos, and files, play games, and more. The cloud is becoming more prominent in our lives, storing our data and information in a place where we can retrieve it quickly and conveniently.

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