Just what is the cloud?

Here’s a question  I get asked again and again. And I know that some of you know the answer by now, but for those who don’t, let’s go over it one more time.

When people talk about using the cloud or cloud storage they’re simply talking about information stored on a server that’s in a different location than the device you’re using. A server, in this case, is a large powerful computer.  Data is transferred between your PC and the server using your Internet connection.  The data is usually backed up on several different computers in multiple locations. That way if one computer crashes or the power goes out in one part of the country, you still have access to the information.


A prime example is an email account. Your messages are stored on servers belonging to your email provider. Those servers are usually located in multiple locations all over the country or the world. Even if you download your messages to your PC with an email client, your messages still spend time in the cloud.  Also in the cloud, your banking information. It’s stored offsite normally spread across several servers so that you can access from home and so any branch of the bank can access the information. When you go to make a purchase with your debit card, the store can instantly send a request for money to your account via the Internet and receive confirmation that the funds are there.  Your driver’s license information, your medical information, your tax records, and even criminal records are all stored on cloud servers.

When you purchase an eBook from Amazon, your purchase is stored on Amazon’s cloud. If you have an iPhone or Android smartphone, your apps, information, and other purchases are stored in the cloud.

You can also use cloud storage for your personal files. Microsoft offers both free and paid OneDrive storage, as does Google, DropBox, and other services. This allows you to save files on offsite servers in a password-protected account.

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