What is “The Cloud” Exactly?

Let's learn about the tech industry's latest mysterious term, “the cloud” computing, to better take advantage of its benefits and be aware of its limitations. So, what is “the cloud” that techies and companies say we need to use to store our digital documents?

Essentially, “the cloud” is the Internet or the many servers around the world that comprise it. If someone says that a photo, word document or some other digital file is stored in “the cloud”, it means that the file is actually located on a server which you access using the Internet, rather than on “local” devices like your computer or smartphone.

The “cloud”, believe it or not, as it has come to be known, has been around for several years, and most of us already use several cloud services. For instance, if you upload your photos to the Snapfish or Shutterfly online photo services, stream music from Pandora or send emails with web-based programs, like Hotmail or Gmail, then you are an active cloud user. These popular cloud-based applications are programs that are located on servers that you access using your Internet Explorer or other Web browser.



 Why all this talk about the Cloud all of a sudden?

Well, in early June, Apple’s Steve Jobs jumped into - the race to the cloud - by introducing iCloud® branded services, which promise to conveniently store your digital content in the cloud and make it available on any of your Apple devices, like iPhone®, iPad® or Mac®. If industry experts’ predictions are correct, Apple’s seal of approval on this approach to online computing will lead to more competition among tech companies and a better understanding of this concept among regular folks. We  can then make better choices about the products and services we'll use to store, organize and access our personal digital files, photos, music and other media. So far the buzz created by Apple seems to have at least succeeded at getting our attention.

Now that Method Media Collection has helped you better understand “the cloud” let’s take a quick look at some of its pros and cons before you go off on your way. 

Pros

1. Conveniently update or “synch” new content across all your digital devices, saving you time and frustration in your everyday life.

2. Online access to more media and entertainment (videos, music, images) than could be stored on your computer.

Cons

1. An interruption in your Internet connection means you won’t be able to use a cloud-based program or access any of your files that are stored remotely. Since this is the case, wise users will make sure to keep a backup copy of their files on their computer or other devices.

2. As with all online services, the potential risks to privacy and security are a concern, so everyone should be careful what personal information they store in the cloud.

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