What is Cloud Computing?

The new buzz phrase in the land of Internet is "Cloud computing." This cloud is not found in the sky. It is actually another description of the Internet itself. Cloud computing is storing and accessing data over the Internet. Before the Internet we stored all of our data and programs on our hard drives found inside our computers. This procedure is now called local computing. In many ways, local computing is still superior to The Cloud.

The Cloud is part of almost every new program in our computers today. If you use the iCloud to store backups of your iPhone or if you use Amazon’s Cloud Drive to manage your Kindle bookshelf, you are already familiar with the ease of cloud computing. Cloud computing makes synchronization of several devices in a network possible. Project collaboration has benefited greatly from this service.

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Many swear by The Cloud. New devices arriving daily are being built solely for use in The Cloud. The new Chromebook is one example of this new breed of cloud device. I agree that the cloud is probably a good place for your favorite music, ebooks, email, interactive calendar, games, etc. However, I draw the line personally at backing up my entire system and storing it in the cloud.

Reasons for Concern With Cloud Computing

First of all, bandwidth being what it is in our corner of the world, it would take a very long time to back up an entire computer system to the Cloud. That is why many who choose to store their system backup in the cloud, opt for Fedex’s sneakernet to deliver backups of their system to the Cloud.  The speed and cost of storing your system backups locally on an external hard drive is still a cut above cloud computing.

Next, when everything is stored in the Cloud, you can only access it when you have an Internet connection. This would be similar to running a business where your phones and Internet are provided by the same provider. If that provider crashes, you are left running blind.

Another thing to consider before turning everything over to the Cloud… who owns your data once it is stored in the Cloud? A recent panic happened for many Lavabit subscribers when the company shut its doors in the midst of the Edward Snowden affair. Those people were unable to access their data, emails, etc… that were stored on Lavabit’s servers. Luckily for them, Lavabit agreed to open its server for three days in order for people to move their data to another place.

The Cloud does have its advantages but you should really weigh your needs and wants before jumping in with both feet. For now, while the cloud is still experiencing growing pains, it may be prudent to only store non-essential data in the cloud and keep your system backups on an external hard drive parked safely in an antistatic bag in a cool, dry, safe place.

This article was originally posted in March 2014 on our Binary Aether Blog which is slowly being migrated here to our website.

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