If you ever wondered what is the Cloud, you are not alone.   IT professionals have wondered this too and to make matters worse, the cloud changes all the time.  I guess that’s how it got its name.

It is not those fluffy things floating in the air but is represents it well.  The reason why most people don’t understand it is because it can be used differently for everyone.  It could be storage, applications, computing resources, or even just a website.

So What is the Cloud?

To simplify the cloud, it can be defined as simply accessing your information from anywhere.  It can be software, storage, or other services that you access through your web browser or mobile application.  Most modern websites can be considered cloud services.  They store your information away from your devices and you can access it  anywhere.

Don’t get confused when you hear people talking about public, private, or cloud computing.  It all basically means the same thing and the idea is not new to the web.  People have been storing information centrally for decades.  What is new is the type of information that can be stored today and how we do it.

Today’s cloud can store and do just about anything you need it to do.  This ability is changing how everyone is using technology.  We are no longer chained to our desktop computer to get work done.  People can work from anywhere.  We can do more from non-conventional work places then ever before.  This is great news for businesses.  This is driving companies to move to cloud faster than any other technology in the past.  Plus, its cheaper and more reliable than the old technology.  It’s a Win-Win for everyone.

What about Personal and Family Data?

Can families get the same benefits of cloud then the businesses of the world.  Yes, maybe even more!  Everyone is probably using the cloud through your Gmail account and not even realizing it.  We all can read our emails, get to our contacts, or view our calendars from your phone, computer, laptop, website, or from another persons computer.  

We are always connected with this data.  This allows you to be mobile and still have control of these parts of your life.  Some people sync bookmarks between devices, upload photos to iCloud or Facebook, or even use an app to save data to one of the other app servers.  This is using the cloud and its making your technology experience better.

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The next phase of moving to cloud for both personal and corporate data is moving other forms of data away from private servers or computers and into this cloud device.  This has many issues which should, rightly so, scare everyone about privacy and security. This is such a large topic that I cannot do it justice in this article.  I cover this more in my post called “Compare NAS or Cloud Drive“.  There are plenty of other posts here to help you figure out if you can take this next step.  I did and so far am very happy.  The key is knowing what data to move, what data to keep local, and what data to delete.  This last one (deleting data) is key!

Moving to the Cloud

Lets start small.  Lots of people are just moving a few parts of their lives or business to the cloud.  They are testing the waters and this is a great idea.  

People are moving maybe their family pictures to websites or online backup cloud drives like iCloud, Facebook, or box.  This a great start and protecting very valuable personal data.  I wrote another post about if its better to use cloud storage or a home NAS server.

I have a small business fixing personal computers.  The most common issue I get asked to do is help people try and recover someones family pictures, personal or work files because their computer got infected with a virus or their hard drive failed.  

They would have done anything to save this important information.  The funny thing is, if they were using the many free cloud services available today, all their valuable data would have been sitting safely in the cloud and away from their computer problems.

I think you should understand what the cloud is by now.  You should understand why it’s important to use it both in your business and personal life.  The next step to moving more towards the cloud is simple.  I will cover each step in detail in several new articles.

  1. Organize your data so you know what data you have and when you want to access it.  I typically divide my information into 3 sections; private, public, and garbage.
  2. Clean up your data and get rid of information you will likely never need again.  Why keep that letter you wrote to an insurance company or a fax cover letter about something you do not care about today.  Also, in this phase, delete all the bad photos of people because with photo’s, it’s the quality that matters, not the quantity.
  3. Move your public data to a cloud drive and configure all your devices to be able to see this information.

Conclusion

That’s it.  Welcome to the cloud.  Start enjoying the freedom and protection you have with this technology and enjoy your life more.  Leave us a comment about how you use the cloud.  Tell us where you would you like or what you would like changed about it.

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