Are you using “The Cloud?” Do you even know what it is? My definition of the cloud is using computers other than your own to keep and access data and applications. Like Gmail (and other services from Google). You access the powerful Gmail through any modern web browser. The gmail program (and the actual emails) are far, far away on one of Googles thousands (some say hundreds of thousands) of servers. There are also collaborative uses for the cloud, which I won’t get into.
I like the cloud for a couple of reasons. The main one being that it gets data off of my PC. I put a certain amount of trust in Google that they’ll take better care of my data than I will. To tell the truth, I’ve lost more than one hard drive, and more than a few files due to my own carelessness. I don’t think I’ve ever lost a file that Google has taken for me.
Beyond safety, I like the face that I can access my ‘cloud’ data from any computer connected to the internet. And if I use web-based programs, I don’t have to worry about whether or not the computer I’m using has a program capable of reading my file format, let alone figuring out how to use it.
Also, if I want to share a file with someone else, it’s faster, since the file is already on the internet. No waiting to upload!
I will say that a client-based application (one on your computer, like Word or Photoshop) is faster and more powerful than any cloud-based application, but the cloud apps are mostly free, and I rarely need anything much more sophisticated. One of the few exceptions is when I work with media files, pictures, audio, or video. In those cases the local computer is still king.
But the cloud does have it’s downside. Even Google only gives a finite amount of space for free. For this reason many of my photos still reside on a hard disk somewhere in my house, and the ones that I do upload are generally low-res versions, suitable for viewing on a PC. Also, even in the age of broadband, it takes time to upload data. And lots of data takes lots of time. It isn’t always productive to upload everything.
The cloud isn’t perfect. But it works for lots of stuff. It sure works for me, and will work for most people. And developers are constantlyy trying to come up with new applications for the cloud, and how to monetize them. When you utilize the cloud your access to your data is ubiquitous and the data is (hopefully) backed up regularly. Google Documents even stores previous versions of documents, which comes in handy at time.
Cloud computing, todays buzzword! 🙂