How the Cloud works

For those of us who grew up when mobile phones were beginning to go mainstream, terrestrial television began airing a fifth channel and the discman was the most technologically advanced mobile media player available, today’s technology – such as smartphones, streaming services and superfast broadband – can seem nothing short of miraculous.

The Cloud – perhaps due to its ubiquitous nature – is a great example of such advancements. It’s almost like our data is being stored in – and retrieved from – the atmosphere; quite literally like magic. The explanation, though, is far more straightforward.

This service is delivered by multiple computers, servers and data centres located in various places around the globe. When you store data in the cloud, it is sent to a remote location via a network and stored in a physical location. In essence, the cloud is comparable to the hard drive in your laptop or the flash-based media in your phone, it’s just that users own the data, not the device it’s stored on.

To put it another way, when you’re browsing the internet and you type a web address into the relevant part of your browser, a request is sent to a server. Following the server having received this request, the files are then returned to your device in order to display the relevant website. The process of uploading data to the cloud is similar but works in reverse: you create a file, and this is sent to a server/data centre and stored there. When you then open this file, it’s retrieved from the remote location and opened on your device.

What are the benefits of the Cloud

In our opinion, the greatest benefit of the Cloud is the ability to automate backups. By editing some simple settings, any file that you create can be automatically saved on both the device on which it has been created and a virtual location simultaneously. Additionally, even in the event that you need to delete a file from your device’s storage media, you can still view it provided you have an internet connection of any kind.

Should you require more virtual storage space, scaling up Cloud storage is both easy and affordable. Because fees are subscription based and most offer a minimum term of just one month, you can also easily reduce your overall costs if your needs change.

Because files are stored virtually, the Cloud also enables people to share files easily via a centralised platform making it easier for geographically dispersed teams to work collaboratively.

Finally, because a user’s files are always available to them provided their device is connected to the internet, the Cloud can be used to recover data if a user’s primary storage fails.

What are the disadvantages of the Cloud?

Many users have expressed security concerns with regards to the Cloud. Such individuals note that data stored in the Cloud is continuously networked and that it is potentially vulnerable as a result.

Granted, companies offering such services are likely to invest heavily in their security but, over the past few years, several extremely large companies that do just that have suffered significant data breaches that have resulted in users’ personal information having been obtained by cybercriminals. This – along with the lack of control Cloud users are afforded regarding the security of their data has resulted in many opting against storing their data virtually.

Conclusion

The Cloud is a series of data centres that allow users to store and retrieve their data via an internet connection. It is also a highly useful means of backing up and sharing data with others. Some have expressed security concerns, however, claiming that sensitive data stored in the cloud is more vulnerable due to the fact that it will always be stored in a networked location. 

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