ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

What is the cloud and why should you care?

Updated on October 28, 2013

What is the Cloud?

You've probably heard of the cloud before, maybe from your work colleagues, friends or even family members. It's been a buzzword for the last few years, but what exactly is it and why should you care? I'll start by answering the former. Google's dictionary defines cloud computing as: the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer. But that's an awful description in my opinion, allow me to take a crack at it. When people use the term 'cloud' or 'the cloud' they are usually referring to a way of storing data online such as documents, pictures or even notes. Many people consider it an alternative to data storage devices such as USB sticks (flash drives), CD-roms and floppy discs (people still use them?). But they are not simply just an alternative to storage devices, anything that is in the cloud can be accessed by you from anywhere. From your phone, laptop or work computer.

To give an example: say I'm writing a report for work and I decide to write it at home. Instead of going through the tedious job of putting it on a USB stick or even emailing it to myself I simply just place it in the 'Dropbox' folder in my documents; and like magic it in is my dropbox folder at work. Of course the example I used there was if I was using the cloud storage service 'Dropbox'. Other cloud applications will have different methods of how to use them.

Now for the bigger question, why should you care? Why wouldn't you care? Cloud storage services allow you to have all your most precious and important files in a place that can be accessed anywhere. It means you no longer have to worry about doing a certain projects on certain computers or even losing those documents. You can take your work home with ease, or (even better perhaps) you can work on your personal projects at work; so long as nobody finds out :')

A Brief History of the Cloud

The history of the cloud and cloud computing actually dates surprisingly far back. Our journey will begin in 1969 with a man named J. C. R. Licklider; a computer scientist. He had an idea of creating a system where anybody from anywhere could access the same files. With that in mind he helped created ARPANET, a primitive version of the internet we know today (although in this hub I am mostly talking about services which allow you access your own files from anywhere, cloud computing is much more than this. Technically everything on the internet is 'in the cloud' in the sense that it can be accessed from anywhere too). ARPANET was a huge network, used by the United States Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, allowing certain people to receive certain data.

Even Though we've had the internet for many years now, it wasn't until just a few years ago that cloud storage services could be a reality. This is due to the massive advances we've made when it comes to bandwidth (the amount of information that can transmitted at one given time). Before it would have been almost impossible to give and take files to and from the internet (the cloud). Before cloud storage services were available to the masses they was available to businesses. In 2002 Amazon unveiled 'Amazon Web Services'. It offered businesses the opportunity to store certain files (mainly images) in their very own cloud. Amazon Web Services is still used today. At around 2009, other cloud services were emerging, this time for ordinary people, not just businesses. In 2009 Google announced its service called Google Drive.

Other Data Storage

Of course there are many other ways to store and move data. The most common one is CD's or CD-ROM's. The way these work is by scanning their reflective side with light lasers. The lasers then transmit the data they received to the computer. USB sticks (or flash drives) are also used by many to transfer data. You would plug your flash dive into your computers USB port/socket and a new folder (or drive) would appear in your documents. At that point you would just drag and drop files in and out. Due to the small size of these flash drives, they were perfect for carrying data around. The last other storage device I am going to cover is the SD card. Mostly used by cameras, SD cards offered a great way to transfer data. SD cards, and micro-SD cards, are used by cameras because of their small size, they make it easy way to move images to your computer.

The NSA and Privacy

If you don't already know, the NSA wants to know what you are doing online and it will try its hardest to find out. They plan on checking through your internet history, websites you visit and documents you place in the cloud. The good news is that many cloud storage services will try to protect you as best as they can. At the moment there are only a handful of online organizations that wholeheartedly support the NSA's agenda and will give away all of your data to them. Luckily Dropbox and Evernote (two cloud storage applications) promise not to do this. Many others do too. Now, more than ever, is the time to check the terms and conditions before signing up to anything.

Which Storage App to Choose

Now to finish off this hub, lets discuss some cloud storage services and find out which one's are best suited to you. By the way you don't need to stick to just one storage service, the three I am about to review are ones I use everyday.

Dropbox is my alltime favourite cloud storage service, it allows you to simply drag and drop your files or documents into a folder on your computer. Said folder is hooked up to the internet and sends it to your online folder. This way it can be accessed from anywhere. I love Dropbox because you can use it with any documents what-so-ever, not just images, PDF's or word documents. It can handle literally anything.

iCloud allows you to sync and access files from almost any Apple produce (e.g. Mac's, iPhones, iPods, iPads). Some files can be accessed from Windows devices too. iCloud is not for everything though, only some types of files can use it, for instance Keynote files can be placed in iCloud (Keynote is the Apple equivalent of Powerpoint).

4 stars for Google Drive

Google Drive is the most powerful cloud storage service I have ever used. Not just does it allow you to access files from anywhere but it also allows you to make files with it. With Google Drive comes a handful of new applications designed to work in perfect harmony with it. Instead of using Microsoft word it has Google Docs, instead of Powerpoint it has Google Presentations; and so on. Not just that but you can also 'share' files. To share means to send it to somebody else who also uses Google Drive. You can allow them to just look at it or to alter it themselves.

Both Dropbox and Google Drive are free and available to anybody. If you own an Apple product the chances are it has iCloud integrated into it, meaning you can use it too.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great overview of the cloud and its function.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 

      5 years ago

      Ahhhh... I see now. I had heard of it before but had no idea what it was.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)