What is The Cloud and How Do I Use It?
If you use a smartphone, a personal computer, or a tablet, chances are that you’ve heard of “the cloud.” You know that the cloud has nothing to do with those fluffy white things that float in the sky. However, its exact nature may still seem a little vague.
Whether you realize it or not, chances are that you already use the cloud in one way or another. What is it exactly, and how can you use it?
What is The Cloud?
Put simply, the cloud refers to software and services that you access over the internet instead of storing them on your computer or another device. The cloud consists of a large network of servers housed in warehouses all over the world. Some of these servers store data, and others run applications.
One advantage of cloud-based technology is that it allows you to store large amounts of data without using up all of your available storage space. In the past, we relied on hard drives, CD ROMs, and floppy discs for storage. The cloud eliminates the need for those things. If you use cloud-based technology, you won’t have to keep track of what you’ve stored where. Not to mention that you’ll never have to delete apps or data in order to make room for other things you want to install or store.
Another advantage of the cloud is that it allows you to access your data or applications from any device. So, even if you upload photos using your computer, you can access them later on your phone or tablet. If one of your devices gets lost or damaged, or if it simply stops working, you haven’t lost any of your important information if it’s stored in the cloud.
Still feeling a little “cloudy?” Watch this video for a more detailed explanation.
How Do I Use the Cloud?
Now that you know what the cloud is all about, you may still be wondering how exactly to go about using it. Basically, any time you store data or run an application without using up storage on your computer or smartphone, you are using the cloud. You may be using the cloud already and not realize it! Here are a few common uses for cloud-based technology.
Remember the days when the only way to see your photos was to drop off a roll of film and then wait for them to be developed? Digital cameras and smartphones have taken photography to a whole new level. Now it’s easier than ever to take hundreds, even thousands, of photos and only print the ones you love the most. However, what do you do with all of those pictures?
Storing photos in the cloud allows you to keep as many memories as you want without using up space on your device or filling up a ridiculous number of photo albums. You can take as many pictures as you want of your grandchildren, your pets, your vacation, or your garden without worrying about what you’ll do with them later. Simply upload your photos, and they’ll be there any time you want to browse or print.
Click here for a list of cloud storage options for photos.
If you use social media, you’re taking advantage of cloud-based technology. After you upload your photos and comments to Instagram, Facebook, or another social media platform, they’re in the cloud. All you have to do to access your posts, or those of friends or family that you follow, is sign in to your account and view them. And anyone in your network of friends can also access your updates.
Like all cloud-based technology, you can access your social media accounts from any device anywhere you happen to be (as long as you remember your log-in information!).
If you use an online storage service like Dropbox or Google Docs, your information is stored in the cloud. In addition, many email accounts also use cloud-based technology. That’s why you can check your email from multiple devices. It’s also why you can have years’ worth of undeleted messages without using up all of your available storage.
Another way many people take advantage of data storage in the cloud is by storing and accessing medical information. Many healthcare providers store records on secure servers, allowing multiple providers quick access to important information. At times patients also have access to certain records, keeping them up-to-date on the care that they’re receiving.
Other Cloud-based Applications
Do you stream videos on a service such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime? What about music-streaming services? These allow you to play music or videos without downloading or using a player, like a CD player, because your entertainment comes straight from the cloud.
Smart home technology can do anything from turning on the lights to showing you who’s at your door and can even remind you to take your medications. It can do all of these things because it takes advantage of cloud-based technology. Any time you ask Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant to lock the door or remind you to pick up milk, you’re using the cloud.
A word of caution: Although data storage facilities employ rigorous security methods, including file encryption, anything stored online is vulnerable to potential security breaches. One way that you can protect your personal information is by using a strong password. Click here for tips on creating a password that won’t be easily guessed. And be sure to keep these passwords in a safe place!
Now that you’ve taken the mystery out of the cloud, you’re ready to take full advantage of all of the convenient services it has to offer.
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