Cloud computing.  It’s in the cloud. What do those terms mean?  Here are the basics.

 

An example of a serverFirst–What’s a cloud?  It’s a server.

OK–What’s a server?

It’s a machine in the computing world that allows one to upload and download data. It’s a type of storage shed. The picture to the left is an example of a server.

What do you mean by data?

Documents, presentations, spreadsheets. photos, surveys.

All of the big digital companies–Apple, Microsoft, Google, plus many more–provide limited, free access to consumers to their servers.

 

So where are these servers?

In a variety of places! Situated in very large buildings with high security, these servers hold that data of millions of users.  Below is a picture of a Google data center in Oklahoma.  It stores data from the midwest and western states.  You just can’t walk in–there is a gate with a guard. It’s a very impressive installation!

Google

 OK–I get that the “cloud” is a pretty name for a server. But, what goes in the cloud?

Lots of things. Here’s a graphic that might make things a little clearer.

Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 9.06.35 PM

The first line is the company.

Second line is the name given to that particular company’s cloud.

The third line provides examples of things that are stored or created in the cloud.

Finally, the last lines explain how ones accesses the particular cloud.

 

What are the advantages of using a cloud?

  1. Free backup (to a point).
  2. If you create and save in the cloud you are not using memory on your computer.
  3. You can access the information anywhere in the world on almost any device.
  4. You can share and collaborate on projects across the world.
  5. Working in the cloud makes telecommuting pretty easy.

What else is in the cloud?

  1. Games  Do you play Words with Friends?  That’s all in the cloud.
  2. Your Kindle books
  3. Snapfish photos
  4. Pinterest boards
  5. Lots more.

Are there disadvantages?

You have to have access to the internet for the most part unless you have downloaded specific items to your device.  For example, when you purchase a Kindle book, it stays in the cloud until you download it.  If you delete the book from your device, it stays in the Amazon (Kindle) cloud. That means you can download it again or on to a different device. You have to go into settings to totally delete a book from your account.  Hint–if you want to access your Kindle books before you fly, make sure you download them before you get on the plane.  Google Drive does have an option for working offline.

What about safety?

  1. Nothing is ever 100% secure–we have all seen examples of big companies being hacked.
  2. Businesses pay big bucks for their data to be encrypted.
  3. Free cloud storage is not encrypted.  Be careful what you store there. Do your research.  Everyone has to figure out their own level of comfort with storing data in the cloud.

 

Image of server from https://www.flickr.com/photos/clsresoff/13470616583

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