What The Heck is The Cloud?

What is a Cloud anyway?

All over the internet these days you hear people talk about “The Cloud”. It’s spoken like it’s some mystical place where all your files are stored safely. Or so they say. You simply push your files to the cloud and snatch them back when you need them. But what exactly is “The Cloud”? What cloud services are the best? Khem Geek answers all that and more in this installment of Tech Basics.

What exactly is it?

Simply put, a cloud is really just someone else’s computer. This really is true. But it’s not just one computer sitting in someone’s basement, it’s several.

Cloud Networks are worldwide
Adapted from WikiImages | Pixabay

A cloud is a network of computers called servers, connected all over the world and accessed through the internet. You, the user, access the cloud by signing into an account portal connected through the internet. Once you’re signed in, your computer or smartphone can talk to the servers that are in the cloud.

Is The Cloud secure?

That depends on the service. Another hot topic of late is data breaches, which we are all concerned about. Security magazine notes that breaches have occurred in several companies, including Capital One and Verizon.  In 2012, there was a breach with Dropbox. You may have heard about the infamous iCloud leak involving Apple’s iCloud service.

What Cloud Services are safe?
Adapted from qimano | Pixabay

Most of these breaches involved high-value targets. For the average person, while the probability of your data being taken and used for nefarious means in a breach might be unlikely, it is definitely not zero.

How can I keep my information safe?

Every year encryption technology gets more advanced to stay one step ahead of hackers and cyber thieves. In addition, there are steps you can take yourself to protect your valuable data.

Things your should never put in the Cloud

Practice good password security practices to keep your passwords safe. Use a strong password manager like Bitwarden. Never store your passwords in cleartext.

In addition to keeping your passwords safe, Planet Magpie lists several things you should never put in the cloud:

  • Personal information – social security numbers, passports, and things containing your birthdate, medical or tax information should never be in the cloud.
  • Business information – If you run a business, be very careful where you put your data. Any customer data should be encrypted and stored preferably in a local server database with regular off site backups.
  • Legal Information – if you have any litigation you’re involved with, make sure that information is privately secured in case of breach.

Where do you get a cloud?

You may already have one and not know it!

The Cloud

Here’s a breakdown of common cloud services you might already have.

  • Google Drive – If you have an @gmail.com email address, then you already have access to up to 15 gigabytes of storage for free. Don’t have a gmail address? Sign up for one here.
  • OneDrive – If you have a Windows 10 computer or a Microsoft Office Subscription using a Microsoft Account, then you already have access to at least 5 gigabytes of storage. If you don’t have a Microsoft Account or want to upgrade your storage, you can get it done here.
  • iCloud – If you have a Mac or an iPhone, then you likely have iCloud with up to 5 gigabytes of storage when you set up your device. You can purchase more storage here.

The cloud is a valuable resource that can save you time, money, and space if used properly and with good security habits. I use the cloud every day to help make my workflow easier.

Before you decide to put your information in the cloud, do your research. Only store your information with a reputable company.

Just remember:

“The cloud is just someone else’s computer,”

While there’s much more to it than that, you need to protect your data like it was. Thanks for reading! For more Tech Basics, click the link below.

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