Debating Using The Cloud? You’re Probably Already Using It.The recent film “Sex Tape,” starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, relies on the idea that many people still don’t quite get how Cloud computing technology works. Of course, it also creates as much misunderstanding as it relies on, and its Metacritic score of 36 out of 100 indicates that a lot of people didn’t really get the movie, either. But perhaps you sympathized with the movie’s premise, and the thought of entrusting your files to the Cloud gives you pause. It shouldn’t – you’ve been using Cloud technology since the first day you got online. You’re Using the Cloud Right Now Anyone using a web browser-based email service like Gmail or Yahoo! Mail should be familiar with the Cloud. Every draft you save, message you send, and message sent to you is stored on several servers belonging to the mail service provider. You only access this information when you need it, and it takes up no space on your own computer. It’s the same principle when you watch a movie on Netflix, or stream a song on Spotify. These services are successful because—cost of buying every film or song aside—you don’t have the room on your hard drive, iPad, or iPhone to store a library that extensive. If you could, you wouldn’t need those services. Each provides the convenience of freeing up your hard drive space and providing information only when you want it. The browser-based applications you use at your office to track time and projects also depend on the Cloud. One major advantage of this technology is that by essentially turning applications into websites, it eliminates the need for making sure everyone collaborating on a project has the same operating system and application version. Those who have been using Apple products since before 2000 know how hard it once was to find some applications for Mac computers so you could collaborate with PC users. Cloud-based apps have largely eliminated that headache. In fact, this website, and every other one you visit, also represent the Cloud. When you typed HighSpeedInternet.com into your browser, your computer requested certain information from our computers. It’s displayed only temporarily and will eventually be purged from your browser’s cache when it’s no longer needed. Without the Cloud, the web would not be possible. That’s Your Data. I Don’t Trust the Cloud With Mine. Actually, you do, even if you don’t realize it. You probably don’t download your email messages to your desktop, so you’re relying on the Cloud to keep them safe. If you have a YouTube account, you’re definitely using a Cloud provider to store your content. You may also be using Apple’s iCloud to store some of your entertainment data. When you buy a song or movie from the iTunes store, you download a copy, but the content is also stored for you in Cloud-based storage, giving you access to your files anywhere, on any device. And that’s what the Cloud ultimately has to offer you: access to all your files, anywhere, even if you left your laptop at home and your big meeting is in 10 minutes. That’s why Cloud storage is one piece of computing’s future. One of the best things about email is that you can check it from anywhere, instead of only on your home computer. Uploading Your Data to the Cloud Takes Speed You should trust the Cloud, and there are low-cost and even free plans from Dropbox and other consumer-oriented Cloud providers. But before you load any significant amount of data to the Cloud, you may want to upgrade your to a high-speed Internet plan. Upload speeds are often slower than download speeds, so looking for a better broadband plan is smart. Something as simple as a one-minute HD video you took on your vacation could take up more than a gigabyte of storage, and take more than an hour to upload over a slow connection. You won’t have enough bandwidth left over to do anything else online during that hour, either. Enter your zip code below, and you may even save enough money to pay for storing your data in the Cloud. Photo Credit: IvanWalsh.com/Flikr
Will Smith is a copywriter living in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His favorite word is “petrichor,” and aside from wordplay, he loves reading history, watching Dodger baseball, and racing with the Sports Car Club of America.