What is the Cloud?

If you’re not completely submerged in the world of technology, you may be confused when “tech” language is tossed around. But, don’t be embarrassed. Unless you’re around this kind of stuff often, it can be hard to understand! One term that often confuses people is “the cloud”.

It’s the one combination of words that you may only understand as the white cotton candy floating around in the sky. In tech terms, “the cloud” does not refer to anything residing in the sky. It’s actually a “catch-all” phrase that includes many different types of virtual solutions and services. There are two main services: cloud computing and cloud storage. 

Cloud computing refers to software and services that run on the Internet

Yes, the Internet! And no, the Internet does not reside in the sky. The name is just so similar to the dense patches of water that soar above us every so often. So, instead of running locally on your computer, the cloud operates on the Internet.  

You may be thinking, “What software and services are you talking about?” Well, they are likely services that you use every day. Cloud services include Google Drive, Apple iCloud, Netflix, Microsoft One Drive, Yahoo Mail, Dropbox, and many others. You may have been using one of these services without even knowing it. Some awesome benefits are that you can access your information on any device with an internet connection, you don’t need special hardware requirements and upgrades are easy because they only need to be performed on one server, instead of every computer and device in existence. 

Cloud services can be accessed through a web browser like Google Chrome and Firefox. Some companies even offer mobile apps that allow cloud access. You’ll receive double the benefits if you combine cloud computing with cloud storage. 

You may be more familiar with cloud storage, which is basically a virtual locker where you can remotely store any data and files. Years ago, people used hard drives, floppy disks, and CDs to store their information. Nowadays, those aren’t necessary. When you save content, such as a photo, to Google Drive, or iCloud, your photo is then copied over the Internet into a data server. 

Data servers are physical places where companies store your files on multiple hard drives. Normally there will be hundreds of these servers spanning across many locations, which are known as server farms. This is for precautionary reasons! If one location goes down, then your files won’t be lost because it will be backed up on another location. 

One benefit of using cloud storage is that it ensures a company’s data is kept secure and readily available. In instances such as a fire, a computer malfunction, or any other crazy emergency, the cloud will keep your data protected. As we know, it will be kept safe because it would be stored on a virtual server, not on your computer. Cloud storage also includes apps such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Apple iCloud, Microsoft One Drive, and much more. 

Overall, cloud computing and cloud storage can be a great solution for freeing up space on your device and accessing your files. It’s also a pretty great safeguard in case your devices are destroyed, because it will be backed up!