‘It’s In The Cloud’ – What Does That Really Mean?

History of Cloud Computing

The hot phrase in computing these days is cloud computing and data storage. The idea of cloud computing has been around since the 1960s, when relay networks were used to push and share research information around the world. Eventually, data services and applications began to be offered via websites on the internet. The type of cloud computing available today has only been made possible in recent years through the massive increase in bandwidth available through several internet providers. In other words, the lines through which we transmit data are finally powerful enough to handle large file transfers quickly. But what is the cloud?

What is it?

The idea of cloud computing is simple. Individual users are able to connect to a much larger network, powered by a server or series of servers, on which they can store their data to be worked on and retrieved later, or to access a wide range of applications and services. Cloud services exist now for application suites, music and video sharing services, to backups of entire systems of data, and a number of reputable cloud services have emerged targeted at servicing businesses as well. This has made it possible for units of storage to be bought “in the cloud”, meaning that one does not have to possess these files on physical drives present in the computer or in external hard disks and flash drives. One can access these virtual drives in a similar way to how physical drives are used, but data transfer occurs via the internet rather than through physical input systems on the computer, such as a USB port.


Cloud computing has already revolutionized the world of data storage, security, and sharing. Large repositories for data exist for storing data that would not be possible or practical on site, while many of these cloud services offer warranties on data and the encryption and protection of the data. In many ways, the servers where the data is stored and closely monitored to ensure data protection is safer than having files backed up on a hard disk at home. Your dog is not able to chew on the servers at Google, and your son can’t accidentally spill coffee on the Apple iCloud data servers. Finally, it would be pretty difficult to drop the drive containing your backups with Carbonite. It has also become increasingly easy to share and link data to be accessed by other, approved parties. No need to send them a physical drive: they can just open an email, click a link, and download a large file near instantaneously. The improvements in productivity for the business world have increased accordingly.

As you may have guessed, these cloud services are now very popular and are offered by several companies. Google Drive, Apple’s iCloud, Amazon Cloud Drive, and Carbonite backups are just a few of the popular cloud offerings out there at this time. Others include Microsoft Skydrive and the ever-popular Dropbox. Many of these services offer a small amount of data storage, on the order of a few gigabytes, while larger storage offerings come at a premium.

Without a doubt, cloud storage and computing is on the rise, and many companies have been setting up large server farms to get in the game. This is great on the consumer end, as storage and security like this has never been so cheap and readily available. Cloud computing is here to stay.

Tim Lynch enjoys working with computers and has over 10 years experience doing IT. For more info on backing up your data check out the following article at http://lifehacker.com.