Where’s the cloud? Are we in the cloud now?

Cloud computing has become quite the buzzword in computing as of lately, but what is cloud computing? Where is this cloud? Cloud computing is basically accessing computer resources over the internet or any other network. The most well-known type of cloud computing is cloud storage. As you may know, you have access to Microsoft’s cloud storage Skydive via your northwest email. This SkyDrive offers up to 7GB of storage space on the “cloud.” So where are the files I save on my SkyDrive really going? Well, quite simply they are on one of Microsoft’s servers in a warehouse somewhere.
SkyDrive is not the only cloud storage service. Some of the other more popular options are Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud and Mega. All of these have free storage space available anywhere from 2GB to 50GB of free space. Each company has its perk such as being able to store larger files or providing mobile apps so you can access files from your smart phone. If you are interested in trying cloud storage, I recommend trying out SkyDrive first as it can conveniently be accessed from your school email address and documents saved on it can be opened directly from Microsoft Office.
Cloud computing is not just online storage. Another popular form is real-time document sharing and editing. The two most popular examples of this are Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365. These are two services in the cloud that allow you to create and edit documents in the cloud without having the software installed on your computer. These applications allow you to easily edit documents and share them between other people who might also need to read and edit the documents.
These are the two most common types of cloud computing that are used by the average user, however, there are many other forms of cloud computing used more by businesses. Many small businesses, for example, use the cloud as a way to host there website without having to have a physical server for it in their business. Businesses might also use cloud computing if they needed to do complex computer rendering that their own computers cannot handle. The cloud allows them to lease this complex work out to a company with more powerful computers that can easily do the work that is needed to be done.
To summarize, cloud computing is computing done on the internet instead of on your physical machine. Instead of saving to your hard drive, you save to a hard drive on the internet. Instead of running word from your computer, you stream it from a server on the internet. This gives you and others the ability to do things from your computer that your computer might otherwise be unable to do, by harnessing the power of other people’s hardware via the internet. It also provides the advantage of being able to access the information from anywhere there is an internet connection, so you are not limited to using the same computer each time to access the data.

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