by Wayne Embrey
Don’t panic! Cloud storage, Cloud apps, or Cloud computing can be described in a way that everyone understands. The concept is “Here or There.” No, really. Here, on your computer, you store pictures, or There, on a remote computer, you store pictures. The term “up in the cloud” refers to a server or computer connected to the Internet network. To store pictures or documents in the Cloud, you create an account with a service like Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft Skydrive, Apple’s iCloud, SugarSync, Box, or any other service you like. Follow the instructions and you will save files with a quick copy and paste.
Cloud applications, also known as web apps, are easy. You click on an icon, and the program runs in your web browser. A great example is the blackboard app provided by Arkansas State University-Mountain Home. A student logs in to ASUMH and navigates to the blackboard where the university provides a web app of Microsoft’s Office software. Another good example is playing games on Facebook, or Yahoo. Candy Crush anyone?
The big story today is Cloud backup. Making a backup is just making a copy of what you have and putting it somewhere else on the Internet for safekeeping. This is priceless in case your kids spill a bottle of bubbles in your laptop. Cloud storage also allows you to share those files with friends, family, or business partners by sending them a link to the files you want them to see. This is especially handy for files that are too large to email.
The downside to Cloud storage is price and speed. If you have a large number of files, it will take a long time to download them if something happens to your computer. Most Cloud storage will give you 5 Gigabytes, but if you need more space, you may have a monthly charge. Some services, like Dropbox, reward you with more space when you introduce the service to new users by sharing links with them. The common recommendation is to have an external USB hard drive backup and back up only highly important files to the Cloud.
DON’T PANIC! The Cloud is very close to the old FTP (file transfer protocol) we used years ago. The only real difference is they decided to make it easy for everyone. The Cloud is secure, provides backup storage, games, and software for getting work done. Now go explore how you can use the Cloud. M! February/March 2014