The new big thing in the consumer technological world – an exciting technology that many, many people have started using is cloud storage. It’s a pretty clever concept – but it’s not just been invented or something – but it’s seen an unbelievable leap in popularity in recent times – and so this is your quintessential guide to Living in the Cloud.
Quite simply, Cloud storage is storing data on your computer somewhere other than your computer. Let’s take an example to understand. Suppose you have a bunch of files on your laptop – a few songs and a presentation, maybe – they would normally be saved in your 100GB hard drive. With Cloud storage, they get stored in a server belonging to the Cloud provider. This means that you have near unlimited storage, your files won’t be lost (even if your computer crashes), and you can access the files from anywhere using the Internet. The first to provide such a service was Amazon, with Amazon Cloud Drive in 2006.
The Magic of DropBox
Founded in 2007, Dropbox has rapidly become one of the most popular Cloud services. Although, iCloud has maximum users – that includes a number of pre-existing Apple customers – who got iCloud as an added benefit. As a Cloud-only service, which requires people to specially sign up, Dropbox leads the group. I’m sure many of your friends have started using it too – due to its easy user interface and innovative solutions. Dropbox allows the users to create a special folder, the contents of which are uploaded into the cloud/onto dropbox servers, and these contents/this file can be accessed from any any computer, mobile, tablet, etc. that has internet with a simple log in. It gets better: you get 2 GB of free space and the Dropbox software is free to download and installed on your computer and so is the application. It’s so easy, if you want to access something you are making on your other devices, you ‘drop’ it in the ‘box’, and then open the Dropbox folder on the other device and voila! INFORMission Weekly can endorse the service itself – we wouldn’t be able to bring any issues out without Dropbox. Bono and Edge (U2 musicians) have invested in the little startup too.
The cloud service with the most number of users, and credited with popularising cloud storage in general is Apple’s iCloud. Apple decided to integrate cloud storage into the software of all it’s devices – resulting in an inbuilt cloud storage in all Apple devices – iCloud. What this basically means is that you don’t have to download a software/app, or have a special folder (like Dropbox) which you put your stuff in. When you activate iCloud, all the stuff on your iPhone, iTouch, iPad, Macbook, Desktop is uploaded onto the cloud – calenders, notes, music documents – everything, and this data can now be accessed from any of those devices. iTunes Match, an added benefit of iCloud, makes sharing music almost too easy. Imagine having an iPod without a single song on it, and yet being able to sit in the middle of nowhere and hear your entire music library on it anyway – the genius of iCloud.
Google’s Complimentary Drive
Google, at the front of every technological revolution, can’t be missed out in this one. Gmail was always a premier example of storage in the cloud – without us even realising it – but Google has given all it’s users a complimentary full cloud service in Google Drive. You don’t have to make an account or sign up – automatically, Google activates your drive service – 15GB of free space in the cloud for no cost at all. It’s important because they reach is already giant – everyone who has an account can be automatically integrated, and the ability to use it without software, app, anything – just internet – make it extra-convenient. It’s the perfect example of just “integrating” the cloud into the rest of your services.
Now, Everyone’s Doing It
We’ve spoken about big companies like Google and Apple incorporating cloud storage into their usage structures and little companies like Dropbox offering cloud storage as their main service; but now everybody’s doing it. Microsoft has followed in Apple’s footsteps with SkyDrive – which hasn’t caught on quite as much, but aims to provide iCloud-type services to non-Apple people. Other big software companies like Linux & unrelated companies like Norton have launched their own cloud services, while a number of little startups like Live Drive, Bit Casa, Zip Cloud, and “Box” (#copiedname…) have begun providing exclusive cloud services. However, apart from all this obvious stuff, the cloud has integrated itself into our lives in other, subtler ways too. Think: Facebook/Twitter activity, financial data, music streaming, search history, Youtube – they store “your” data somewhere else. Whether you may like it or not, the cloud is here to stay…
Photo Credits: elementaryupdate.com
References: dropbox.com, Wikipedia, Bloomberg Businessweek