Cloud computing is not a brand new concept. However, it has recently emerged into the realm of public awareness. What exactly is cloud computing? It is the use of external networks to store and process data. The move to the cloud means that files and data are no longer stored on the end user’s computer. Some may find this concept frightening, but many others are embracing the change. If you are someone who works frequently on the Internet or spends a good portion of your computer time online, chances are you have experienced some form of cloud computing.
Document storage is one aspect of cloud computing that is gaining popularity among computer users. Traditionally, users have stored documents directly on their computer hard drive or external storage device. However, many people have found that the cloud is perfect for composing and storing documents. Services such as Google Docs have created an amazing word processing experience that works directly in the browser. Documents are auto-saved on a remote server and are easily shared among multiple people without the hassle of sending file attachments through email. This service has taken the challenge out of sharing work-related projects that require document collaboration.
Online backup services are another example of cloud computing becoming more common. Services like Mozy and Carbonite run real-time backups of a user’s entire computer system and store it on a remote server. These services remove the need for purchasing external storage devices that may not be reliable. Sometimes, external hard drives do fail, resulting in the loss of data that is expensive to retrieve. External storage devices don’t always backup automatically and may require a user to do this manually. What happens when someone forgets to backup their data on a regular basis? The risk of losing important files like work projects or treasured family photos due to hardware failure makes online backup services very appealing.
The introduction of netbooks into the technology market has begun pushing casual computer users to adapt to cloud computing. Netbooks are mini laptop computers that are designed to simply surf the Internet, check email and perform basic tasks on the computer. The Chromebook is a perfect example of cloud computing in action. It runs Google ChromeOS operating system using the Chrome browser to perform tasks. The Chromebook runs on the assumption that the user is connected to the Internet. Instead of installing traditional software, the user performs tasks with web applications that run inside the browser. Some analysts suggest that this is only the beginning of cloud based operating systems and the use of software as a service as opposed to traditional computing.
Cloud computing is quickly moving into the entertainment market as well. Subscription based services like Netflix and Hulu that stream movies and television shows online have provided users with a cheaper alternative to expensive cable services. There’s no need to purchase DVDs or expensive players either, as everything is accessible directly on-demand through a computer. In the world of gaming, services such as OnLive have provided a gaming environment in which an individual does not need a high-end computer to play the latest games simply because the game is run in a remote environment.
Cloud computing is taking over faster than many may realize. More and more people are turning to it each and every day. As technology progresses, cloud computing will become a more efficient and accepted means of computing. It has created a revolution in information sharing that will become instrumental in technology growth for many years to come.
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