What is the Cloud?

Everyone talks about THE CLOUD… Store your files and photos in the Cloud. Cloud software! Cloud hosting. Cloud solutions! Cloud backups! Your computer went down? You’re running out of storage? You lost some data? Don’t worry, everything is in the Cloud. Do more with your money and leverage the power of the Cloud. But what is the Cloud really? And how can it help your business?

Simply put, the Cloud is someone else’s computer. Yes, really. Remember that boxy personal computer sitting under your desk? Imagine hundreds or thousands of computers like that one (only bigger) all strung together in a massive network, sitting in a building or a skyscraper or a bunker.

These computers are powered up, running all the time, ready and responding to millions of requests from all around the world. In fact, there can be so many of these computers in one place, all generating heat, that engineers have to come up with special ways to cool them down. This is the Cloud. And when you put your files and photos and important data on the Cloud, it’s all going onto a computer like this, somewhere out in the world.

Are there benefits to using the Cloud? Sure. You can get access to nearly unlimited storage space for pennies, compared to what it would cost to run your own computers. And someone else is taking care of the complicated configuration, maintenance, updates and security. You can also save money on upfront licensing costs by subscribing to Cloud software.

You probably realize there’s a “but” coming…

But who’s to say what really happens to your stuff when it’s in the Cloud? Each company (from Microsoft, to Apple, Google, Dropbox, etc) all have their service agreements that state what they can do with your stuff. But who reads this? And who really understands the language? Are you a lawyer? Or did you just click “I agree”? When you use the Cloud, essentially you are giving someone else all your photos, documents and data. Anyone from nosy corporate staff, to engineers, governments and disgruntled employees could be snooping through your stuff. And security breaches happen all the time. Remember when thousands of celebrities’ private photos were leaked online?

So what’s the best way to use the Cloud? Always keep in mind that the Cloud is someone else’s computer, and the company that owns the other computer can do anything with your data and change their terms of service at any time. Use the Cloud as a supplement to your own computers and your own storage. Never rely on the Cloud entirely. Maintain your own offline backups. Calculate the ongoing cost of storage and licensing versus paying upfront. And if privacy is very important for your business, you can choose a privacy and security-oriented Cloud provider.

For help integrating your computers and storage systems with a proper online Cloud provider, drop us a line or an email. Or if you’re comfortable doing it yourself, check this list of the best Cloud storage providers.

Chris David

Chris David

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