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What Is 'The Cloud' and How Does It Work?


Posted on 09 Sep, 2020 @ 11:07 AM by Zane Paulo Zane Paulo


The tech industry loves to use buzzwords like the Internet of Things, Big Data and 5G. The problem is that these sometimes nebulous or arbitrary terms don’t make it clear what they actually mean to consumers.

 
“The cloud” is one of those terms.

When tech companies say your data is in the cloud, or that you can work in the cloud, it has nothing to do with white fluffy things in the sky. Your data isn’t actually in heaven or in the wind. It has a terrestrial home. It’s stored somewhere — lots of somewheres — and the network of servers find what you need and deliver it.

The cloud refers to software and services that run on the Internet, instead of locally on your computer. Most cloud services can be accessed through a Web browser like Firefox or Google Chrome, and some companies offer dedicated mobile apps.

Some examples of cloud services include Exchange Online, Office 365, SharePoint Online, Google Drive, Apple iCloud, Netflix, Yahoo Mail, Dropbox and Microsoft OneDrive. (There are also many, many business applications for cloud computing, but for the purpose of this post, I’ll deal with consumer solutions.)

The advantage of the cloud is that you can access your information on any device with an Internet connection. It’s what allows you to make edits to a file in Google Docs on your home computer, and then pick up where you left off when you get to the office. Colleagues can even collaborate on the same document.

Another benefit of the cloud is that, because the remote servers handle much of the computing and storage, you don’t necessarily need an expensive, high-end machine to get your work done. In fact, some companies are making cloud-based computers as a low-cost option for consumers and the education market, the most notable example of this being Google’s Chromebooks.

But the cloud has its downfalls, too. Without an Internet connection — or with a crappy one — you’re basically locked out of accessing your data and cloud-based programs. The same applies if there are any technical issues or outages on the server side.

This disclaimer informs readers that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author's employer, organisation, committee or other group or individual. As technology advances swiftly some information displayed maybe out of date. Please refer to official product technical websites for up to date information.

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