“The cloud” has become a catch-all term for various implementations of distributed computing—yet many people still have no idea what the cloud means and what it can do. You may even be currently using the cloud through an online data drive or social media, but unaware of it.
In fact, the cloud is not a physical entity at all, but instead is simply a concept that describes the utilization of networked computers across the globe. Cloud computing facilitates much more efficient data storage, transfer, and processing for everything from running apps and accessing online services, to storing and accessing data. Because of the cloud and this network of servers, businesses and individuals alike can expand their computer operations far beyond what any local infrastructure can do.
Let’s break it down a bit to make the concept clearer:
- Where is your data? When data is stored “in the cloud,” you might be picturing it floating up in the air somewhere—but it’s not literally in fluffy white clouds. When you’re working in the cloud, your data is actually stored or transferred here on Earth through a network of servers, which work together to find the files you need and deliver them to you. In short, when you use the cloud, you’re really using an app that’s either run on or hosted by Internet servers, rather than accessing them from local storage via a hard drive on your own computer.
- How do you access cloud data? The difference between cloud storage and sharing and traditional forms of storage and sharing comes down to where the software and services are run. Cloud services use the Internet for storage and transfer rather than your local computer or local physical server. Since cloud software is Web-based, that means you can access it through browsers like Safari or Google Chrome, or through specific office software apps.