Simply put a 'cloud' is an alternative solution to storing and running applications on your local hard drive. It requires an internet connection to use it. Your data and applications are run remotely from your PC / Tablet / Mobile. Its now big business with many top companies looking to invest in or are already using cloud, with the industry approaching a value of over $100 billion a year.
Normally a user or company will store its files and data locally on their hard drives, floppy drives or USB flash drives. This is great but in some cases you may want to be able to access your files and data anywhere in the world. So this is where cloud storage comes in. It lets you uploads files and data onto a remote server. The files maybe stored on one or many different servers and possibly in more than one location. This will all be managed by a Hosting company.
Its not just files that can be stored on the cloud. Users and businesses can store entire programs on the cloud and run them remotely. The advantage being you can then access this program anywhere in the world. Businesses that have lots of workers and PCs can possibly install one software on the cloud which can then be used by all staff without the need for them to install a copy on their own PC. If you have a slow PC and want to run slow time consuming algorrithms, you can use the cloud to run these much faster. You can run complex queries (such as MYSQL) in seconds making use the size of the cloud and speed. The speed will depend on the hosting company and how much you pay. Users can create games and mobile apps where the backends are cloud based making them more versatile and accessible. An example would be the Google Cloud Services. Google Drive is also a cloud service which is more accessible for the personal users.
The first thing to bear in mind is that your your data be in public or personal or business is stored on someone elses server. Although this offers some protection against natural disaster destroying your local data it does have some drawbacks. How well do you know the hosting company, are they reliable, will they still be there in a years time? What happens to your data if the company goes out of business? If you delete your data on the cloud how can you be sure it was really deleted. We know even the big companies can get hacked into so is your data really safe as compared to storing on a portable disk or drive? The other point is not every town/location has fast internet connections so in some situation you may struggle to access your data. You could opt to use a reliable company such as Google who have large data centers and are established. But with Google, although at present they offer a free trial it may be out of budget for independent users.
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