What is “the cloud”?

July 6, 2017 by Area 51 Data Solutions

The cloud, or cloud computing, is for storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of on or through your computer’s hard drive.  In the past, photos, files, music, etc. storage options were on physical hardware you could hold such as a floppy disk, CD, thumb drive, or hard drive.  Today, when you look at photos on Facebook, Flickr or access music on services like Pandora or movies through Netflix or Amazon, those items are not physically located on your computer, they are someplace else.  And that place is the cloud.  Cloud is a metaphor for the Internet.  Another example is Quickbooks Pro versus QuickBooks Online.  QuickBooks Pro you have to download to your computer and run and use it from there.  QuickBooks Online is solely online or in other words a cloud-based software.


More and more software applications are hosted on or run on Internet services.  For example, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Apple have servers or server farms.  For those services their servers are the cloud – that is where your media is actually stored.  Not on your computer.  Instead of using a personal computer to run an application each and every time, the application can be run from anywhere in the world.  The server, not your personal computer or device, provides the power to the application and allows access from anywhere.


What the cloud is not:

The cloud is not your hard drive.  Your computer’s hard drive is local storage.  Everything you need and using from it is close to you, there in your machine.

The cloud is also not a dedicated hardware server on site.  Storing data on a home or office network is not cloud computing.


But if even after this summary of basic information on the cloud you want to still picture the cloud as a bubble or fluffy cotton ball or hard drive in the sky, go right ahead.


Still have some questions about the cloud?  Wondering what’s so great about the cloud?  Stay tuned to our blog.  Or in the meantime, contact Area 51 Data Solutions to determine if the cloud is right for your business.