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Where is The Cloud? Five things to know

Posted on 2021-01-21 13:42:07

 

How your life and business have become even easier to get at and manage

If you are not technically inclined or simply don't care about tech (but just want the stuff to work), all this talk about The Cloud must have you wondering if Silicon Valley is able to control the weather.

However, without Cloud technology, we wouldn't be able to start reading our email on our smartphones, continue to follow email threads on our tablet devices, and finish reviewing them on our computers. We wouldn't be able to turn off a Netflix show we are watching on the TV to later continue watching it hours later from the exact spot where we left off. And we wouldn't be able to keep important digital files safer now than they ever have been in the past.

In reality "the Cloud" is just a shorthand term for "Cloud computing." Cloud computing  just refers to the idea of using someone else’s computers on the Internet to do things we used to do on our own personal computers or office network servers. 

For instance, we previously stored our bookkeeping files on computers in our offices. We used to run our software from those same systems. Now, with the Cloud, all that work is done securely on computers linked together by the Internet.

Here are some things that are helpful to know about the Cloud.

The Cloud is everywhere

Just like its meteorological namesake, the Cloud is everywhere - or at least anywhere where there’s a computer and an internet connection.

A Cloud application usually runs on multiple (sometimes hundreds) of powerful computers spread around the world and interconnected through the Internet.  The beauty of the Cloud is that no matter where you are on the internet, you can use an internet browser to get at the software and data you use everyday as long as you have the user id and password.

No-one owns the Cloud

Like the internet, the Cloud isn’t owned or managed by any one organisation. Instead, "the Cloud" is a label for vast collections of computers that serve up software applications and data files.

Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are the largest Cloud service providers. Others, like Facebook, host their own Cloud platforms.  It's in the Cloud you'll find Netflix, Amazon, Youtube, Instagram, and nearly every popular digital service imaginable. 

It’s incredibly powerful

The Cloud also lets many people use the same software application at the same time. This means that having just the right kind of computer to use an application is less important than in the past. As long as your internet is good and your computer speedy enough, you can use almost any kind of internet-enabled software.

So, you and your coworkers can run Microsoft 365 anytime of the day from anywhere in the world because the suite of software products are internet-enabled.

This, together with the "everywhere" nature of the Cloud, also makes applications much more flexible. In the past, documents, data files, and applications were locked on one computer. Sure,  you could carry them around on a floppy disk or USB flash drive, but having everything in the Cloud now makes that nearly obsolete.

Now, Cloud applications let you access your documents and applications anywhere there’s a computer with an Internet connection. That means you can use them at home, at work, at a friend’s house, or in an airport lounge. You can do your thing on a desktop computer, a laptop, a tablet device, and even on your smartphone.

More and more applications are using the Cloud

There are some genuine advantages to switching to the Cloud.

Cloud file storage applications like Apple iCloud or Microsoft OneDrive, for example, are simple and effective ways to keep your files safe and secure. By synchronising (‘syncing’) automatically with one or more folders stored on your computer’s hard drive, you always have a "remote" Cloud backup of your important files. You can access the files over any internet connection on nearly any device.

 

Renting or buying video and audio from the Cloud also means you don’t need to store anything on your PC, smartphone or tablet. This is great if your personal device does not have much storage space. Better still, when you "stream" a program on Netflix or Disney + from the Cloud and pause the show, you can return to it on another device, including your TV. 

The Cloud is secure

In many ways, however, storing your stuff in the Cloud is even more secure than keeping it on your own computer. If a computer is stolen, for example, everything stored on it is stolen too. When those files are also stored on the Cloud, downloading them to a new computer is simple.

Cloud application providers also "lock up" files with encryption, to make it difficult for hackers to access the contents of the files. Google and Apple use this approach for purchases from the app store. Although apps, music and movies are still stored on your smartphone or tablet, you can restore everything you’ve bought to another mobile device simply by signing it into your app store account.

The most important thing to know about the Cloud you need to know, though, is that you don't have to know anything about it to reap its benefits. Just sit back and enjoy.

 

Our Managed IT service provides an integrated suite of software and services to take the burden of running your own IT department off your shoulders. Give us a call at (425) 654-2502 to find out how Managed IT can save you money on your computer operations. Or use our support request form if you need technical support.