Conceptually, the “cloud” is not new. Over the past few years, the idea has matured into something people can relate with, so it’s become more popular. Websites and applications use the cloud to connect millions of technology users with the digital world more effectively. In a nutshell, the term “cloud” is used as a metaphor for the Internet.
If someone were to say to you, “I’m going to store my photos in the cloud”, they mean that their photos will be stored using a tool that is constantly connected to the Internet. Similarly, “cloud computing” is the idea that computers and digital devices, such as an iPad or Kindle, are constantly connected to the Internet. With this constant Internet connection, these technologies can access incredibly useful online tools to make everyday life better.
Storing files, such as photos, music and documents is one of the most popular uses of the cloud for the average user. For instance, using the cloud, I can store a document I’m writing, perhaps a recipe book, on the Internet. This allows me to retrieve that file from any computer or device with an Internet connection in the world. So, if I started the book in Canada and saved it in the cloud, I could travel to Florida and access the same file on a borrowed computer to finish it.
My location is irrelevant when the file is saved in the cloud. The only thing required to access the information is a computer with a connection to the Internet. The important part to understand is that instead of storing the file on a specific computer, like many people have done for a long time, it can be saved in the “cloud”, making it accessible anywhere in the world with Internet access.
There are many benefits to using the cloud more as our technologies continue to evolve. Firstly, by using the cloud, computers can be made cheaper. Do to the various storage and application options the cloud creates, computers don’t need to be as powerful, so the parts are less expensive to manufacture. These cloud based computers are already available at retailers everywhere. They are called netbooks.
People who expect to use their computer for primarily accessing the Internet would be good candidates for a netbook. On the other hand, people who are interested in playing games, or editing photos and video would require a computer with more power. However, the screen on a netbook is small, probably only 10 inches, so if you have trouble with your vision, it might not be for you.
Another great benefit of cloud connecting is that many cloud based applications are free. For instance, there are free antivirus programs that are always kept up to date automatically because they are connected to the cloud. Likewise, Google Docs is a set of applications similar to Microsoft Office that are available for free on the Internet.
The cloud creates opportunities for people to store, access, and share their digital files across the Internet. For seniors living in retirement communities, it’s an easy way to get access to family photos and videos from all over the world. The increasing popularity of the cloud has a lot to do with the change from stationary to mobile technologies, meaning our devices are no longer left at home. Instead, technology travels with us, giving us the freedom to benefit from the Internet wherever we are.
Mobile, cloud based devices, like tablet computers, E-readers, and smartphones are guiding the future of common technology use. How you benefit from them is up to you, but there is certainly something for everybody. What a great topic for the next article!