“The Cloud.” The term has worked its way into daily conversation, but what does it mean, exactly? Is there one cloud or many? Does anyone own the cloud? Obviously, many questions swirl around this relatively recent and yet all-pervasive development in the tech world. We’ve heard your cries for clarity, and made a list of five common questions in an effort to part the clouds. Oh and just a heads up – if you’re against cloud-based puns, this may not be the post for you.
- What is the cloud? The concept of the Internet started getting tossed around long before every household had a computer. But the term “cloud computing” didn’t get coined until 1997, when a company called Salesforce made a site that could deliver software online.At its heart, that’s what cloud computing is – the ability to use the Internet as a storage device, allowing you to upload and download using only a strong Internet connection and your device. So, for example, when you upload a picture to Facebook, the file starts in a physical location – the hard drive of your phone or computer. But you don’t email the file to a Facebook employee, who then posts to your profile. You upload it to the Facebook site – to be stored “up there” – between your computer’s hard drive and Facebook’s servers. That’s why it’s called the cloud – it just kind of hovers between physical locations.
- Why is the cloud necessary? The cloud lets individuals and businesses store as much content as they want online, without needing to buy physical storage hardware. For example, if you’re a photographer, eventually you’ll take so many photos that you run out of space on your computer. You can either buy another physical hard drive, or you can rent space in the cloud through sites like Dropbox or Google Drive. Then, if down the line you need more or less space, you can fluctuate effortlessly. For a single photographer this impact may be small. But if you’re a company that could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on computer storage hardware, with dramatically and rapidly fluctuating storage needs, the cloud offers massive cost savings.
- Is the cloud secure? This is a very important question. If you’re storing personal or company data online, it better be safe. The short answer is, “yes.” That is, they’re safer than physical hard drives, which can be subject to theft, fires, floods, and the age-old computer meltdown. Data in the cloud is protected with sophisticated encryption tools to keep it from hackers. That said, you need to protect your online accounts with strong passwords. By the way, if your password is “password,” please stop reading this right now and change it.
- What cloud platform should I use? There are several high profile companies offering cloud services – in fact, most huge tech companies have a stake in the cloud. Which one you use, if any, depends largely on your devices. For example, if you have a Windows PC, tablet or phone and want access to your files from any device, Microsoft’s OneDrive is probably your best bet. Then again, if you find yourself using multiple devices every day, the seamless transitions Dropbox offers may be more appealing. Numerous tech gurus like CNET and com have compiled buying guides for cloud platforms as well.
- Where is the cloud going? A lot of really smart people are trying to answer this question right now. What we know is that it’s going to become increasingly important and an ever-larger part of our lives. Some experts say cloud computing is the most important milestone in human communication and information sharing since the invention of the telephone. Huge companies like Google and Amazon are vying for their piece of the cloud pie as you read this. It’s exciting to watch such a huge technological revolution!
Hopefully these FAQs help demystify what is becoming a very large part of our online lives. Before taking part in the cloud yourself, make sure you have a great internet connection, like the one Frontier Communications offers. FiOS and High Speed Broadband options allow you to enjoy High Speed internet at a price you can afford. Otherwise, you may be waiting a very long time for files to upload and download from cloud platforms. With a little help from Frontier, you can keep your head in the cloud (sorry – we had to get one more in).