Up in the cloud

The “cloud” is a term that gets thrown around often these days but what is it exactly?

It’s a data storage service that operates online. Simply put, the cloud consists of any software that allows you to store your information on the Internet rather than on your computer, tablet or phone. These cloud software services can be set to public, private or semi-private, depending on what, if anything, you want to share with others.

Many companies depend on cloud services; you could be using a cloud service right now without even knowing it! Many popular web services like iCloud, Dropbox, OneDrive, even Netflix rely on the cloud. For instance, Netflix allows you to stream TV shows and movies from their catalogue of titles, which is stored and then accessed by users online.

Losing data because your laptop, tablet or phone crashed is very frustrating. One key element of the cloud is that it’s a convenient way to store a backup of your documents, music, movies, or photos. Additionally, the cloud extends the storage capacity of our existing devices by providing external storage resources. Many cloud storage services offer anywhere between 2GB and 5GB of free storage. Additionally cloud storage can be purchased if needed.

There are some important things to recognize about using the cloud to store your files. For instance, if your information is stored on any cloud-oriented service, deleting it from your device does not also remove it from the cloud. A common example of this would be if you deleted a picture from your smartphone that you had already posted on Facebook… Deleting the photo from the phone does not remove it from Facebook. The photo exists in two locations, the phone and Facebook, which requires removal from both independently.

The cloud is used all around us in our everyday lives. To use it safely, users should not store any secret personal or financial details about their life, such as scanned passports, lists of passwords or sensitive health information. These related documents should be stored on a computer/tablet/smartphone and a backup should be made on a USB flash drive as an alternative to using the cloud.

– Aneet Hundal (ETAG Volunteer Technology Writer)