Cloud Computing for Non Geeks

Most computer users already use cloud computing today. You use Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo: Congratulations, you’re in the cloud. If you’re reading this, you’re in the cloud: the Internet is a cloud.

Once upon a time your computer’s hard drive was a place to store all your digital information. Email, photos and documents were stored on your computer. Cloud computing is changing the way digital information is stored: your emails are no longer stored on your computer, but exist only on Google servers (such as on a hard drive) if you use Gmail, or Google servers. Microsoft if you use Hotmail etc.

The benefits of using the cloud to store information should be obvious: you can check your email from your computer, smartphone, any computer connected to the Internet, etc. If your computer fails and can’t be restored, you won’t lose your emails – they’ve never been stored on your computer. Cloud computing means you don’t have to worry about transferring all your software and data to your new computer (unclear movie links removed). Connect a new computer, log in, and your data and programs become available.

The downside of using the cloud to store your information should also be obvious: a lack of maintenance. If your Internet connection breaks down or the server on which your information is placed fails, you will not be able to access your data until the problem is resolved. Do you risk losing all your belongings forever when using the cloud? If you’re dealing with a reputable company with solid experience in cloud computing (Google, Amazon, etc.), that temporary outages will happen, but data loss shouldn’t be a problem. Hackers have attacked and will attack the cloud: large databases with personal information – a great target. Are your assets 100% protected in the cloud? No. Do you have an alternative if you want to live with all the conveniences of the cloud: no. Think of the cloud security problem: would you stop driving because a lot of people die in accidents every year?

Cloud computing will eventually provide all the software currently available (accounting programs such as zuickBooks, web publishing programs such as DreamWeaver). Rumor has it that Windows 8 will be active in the cloud, Apple is developing iCloud and that Google Chromebook has already been released (web laptop only).

For better or worse, the cloud is here. Anthony Weiner (a Congressman from New York who posted X-rated photos on Twitter) represents the flip side of the cloud: too many people can access your content.

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