Many of my customers have asked me to explain the Cloud so I hope to demystify the subject a little and give you some clear information on whether or not it would be useful for you to use.
Simply put, the Cloud offers a way of storing your files (documents, photos etc.) on a computer that is only available via the internet. This computer, more correctly known as a server, could be based anywhere in the world and is specifically used for this purpose. Servers are usually a group of computers and are more powerful and stable than the standard computer you would use at home. The Cloud consists of a collection of servers linked together and there are various types, for example mail-servers store and give access to email and web-servers host web sites.
The idea of cloud computing (accessing computer resources online) has actually been around for quite some time but has gained popularity in recent years along with faster and more efficient broadband connections.
There are three big advantages to using the Cloud;
The Cloud helps you keep your files safe.
Storing your files online is a really important consideration; if everything is currently stored on the hard drive of your computer at home, what happens if there’s a flood, or a burglary, or the hard drive just stops working? By using an online storage provider such as Microsoft OneDrive to store your backup, you would be able to recover your files. For the home user the good news is that you can access the Cloud for free depending on how much you need to store. Charging only applies if you need more than the free allowance available.
It lets you access your files from anywhere at any time.
Not only is the Cloud a safe way to back up your files, it also means you can access them from anywhere in the world at any time by using your smart phone, tablet i.e. any computer with an internet connection.
With Cloud technology, you can share information too.
Cloud storage is a great way to share files with family, friends or business colleagues. No need to send the photos of that family reunion by post on a CD or memory stick. If you use a service such as Dropbox you can upload your photos, invite your chosen contacts to view them, and they are then able to look at the photos wherever they are. If you have a smart phone and you use it as a camera, your photos can be sent straight to your Cloud based storage and shared immediately.
What are the disadvantages of cloud computing?
There are lots of security measures in place but even so, you may worry about handing custody of your personal files to a third party so here are some things to be aware of;
- There is the risk that unauthorised users might gain access to your information.
- You are dependent on the provider of the cloud services you access – in the very unlikely event that their server ceases to operate, you run the risk of losing all your information.
- If you happen to be somewhere without a broadband connection you won’t be able to access your files.
There are many companies offering Cloud based storage with a variety of plans both free and paid for, so when you know how much you will want to store online you can choose the plan that suits your needs.
If you decide to use Cloud storage to back up your files, it is always a good idea to have at least one more copy of them stored safely elsewhere and remember to use strong passwords for your cloud accounts.