What Is The Cloud?

Ever find yourself wondering, 'What exactly is the cloud?'

 The Cloud is a term that has been gaining popularity for a while now, but it is one of the most frequently misunderstood terms in regard to the internet, computing, and data. It doesn’t help that the term is commonly misrepresented in context, being a frequent buzzword in marketing. “Cloud Storage,” “Cloud Computing,” and “Personal Cloud” are just several examples.

What is the Cloud? 

So what does it mean to store something in the cloud? If you upload a file into cloud storage, that doesn’t mean it’s floating around in the sky, waiting to be plucked out of “cyberspace” whenever you need it. Data files are not intangible. Every piece of electronic data that exists is stored on a device somewhere, so when you upload a file to the Cloud your data isn’t floating around in the sky. As dreamy as that sounds, in reality when you save a file to the Cloud you are actually saving it to a physical storage device somewhere, like a server. 

To put it bluntly, The Cloud refers to someone else’s computer. For example, “Cloud Storage” refers to storing data on a server that is managed by somebody else, rather than the user’s own computer. While this can refer to a network of servers that is managed by a reputable company, this doesn’t have to be the case. If a user sets up a computer on their home network that is accessible from the internet, whether it’s for storage, streaming, processing, or anything else, that could be considered The Cloud. In fact, many consumer options are available for home Cloud Storage, or a Personal Cloud.

Improvements in internet accessibility and mobile bandwidth have made cloud storage a go-to solution for many people since it makes your data files accessible from any device with internet connectivity in any location around the world. In addition, certain Apple Inc. and Google devices can automatically upload, or sync, your device files to a cloud storage account, eliminating the need to manually upload your data. This feature can be beneficial since you no longer have to worry about an accident befalling your mobile device and causing the loss of all your data on that device. 

This idea of doing things in The Cloud can be very beneficial. Accessing documents from anywhere, collaborating on the same files, and storing data is very common. However, that means the safety of any data stored depends on whoever manages that server for security. This can be both a good thing and a bad thing. While all it takes to access The Cloud is an internet connection, without an internet connection, many of those services are rendered useless. Additionally, if a cloud service is hacked, anyone who stores their data through that service could be vulnerable. This makes security very important for cloud-based systems, especially when personal data is involved.

Although Cloud Computing has its benefits, it isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Like all forms of technology, it depends on the situation, and is much better used when properly understood.