Head in the cloud computing5/15/2013
If there is one term in the tech world that is off-putting, exciting and confusing all wrapped in one, it’s cloud computing.
While there is definitely a high degree of nerdery when talking about “the cloud,” chances are you are already using several cloud services. YouTube, Wikipedia, WordPress, Dropbox, TurboTax, Gmail — all of these websites, and the service they represent, are examples of cloud computing.
So what is it? Cloud computing is the use of Web-based computing tools that replace the need for hardware and software traditionally stored on a computer. Any time you store a picture online, create an event on your web-synced calendar or web search for the definition of a word, you are computing in the cloud.
Why is this such a big deal? Think back to how you used a computer in 2000 and compare it to today. A little more than a decade ago, you probably stored every picture, document and mp3 on your computer. It was safe, but hard to access. Now consumers store all of those documents in the cloud and can access every possible piece of data from almost any Internet-connected computer. Businesses love it because their staff can securely access company data remotely, and consumers love it because they can share, store, find information and make purchases with a few easy clicks across the Web.
Even with all the benefits of cloud computing, there are still definite concerns. Whenever you entrust a website to house your personal data, there is an element of risk. If a Web service is hacked, the prize isn’t your password; it’s your financial information and personal records. So making sure you only patronize secure and established services is paramount.
Now before you swear off cloud computing for fear of being “hacked,” consider its most salient saving grace — data restoration. Say tomorrow you spill your morning coffee on your laptop and fry the hard drive. If you didn’t back up your important files to the cloud, I hope you at least have a back-up disc somewhere, or you can kiss your data goodbye. CV
Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @ResponsiblyWild.