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Friday, May 8, 2015

Is OneDrive Part of "the cloud"?

"The Cloud" can be really confusing. That is because it is invisible. I wrote aboutit in an earlier post called "What is Cloud Computing?" 

When I think of a cloud, I think of a fluffy white thing floating peacefully through the sky.  

That is NOT what the Cloud is that you hear about these days.When someone talks about "The Cloud" in the context of technology they are talking about HUGE warehouses of computers called servers that are storing HUGE amounts of your data and serving it or sending it out when requested. They look more like this picture.

Companies have "Clouds". If you use Kindle, you are storing your books on the Amazon Cloud. If you have Gmail your email goes through the Google Cloud. Apple has a cloud that they call iCloud. Microsoft calls their cloud OneDrive. Dropbox is a Cloud. Social Media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter have Clouds. 

The Cloud or Clouds have made it possible for us to access information from anywhere that there is wifi. We can sync all of our devices so that they have the same information. We can share files and photos with people in other locations easily without having to attach them to email. Clouds are maintained and backed up regularly - hopefully in different locations, to ensure the integrity of information. 

A word of caution though.  The Cloud is not just one thing or an innocent peaceful thing. Clouds are many different collections of data managed by companies. It is possible that a company may go out of business. What will happen to your data? What if the company that is storing your data uses it in ways you do not approve of? What if there is a security breach somehow and your files are accessed? The recent story of celebrity pictures is an example of that. (Click on the link if you don't remember it! I chose CNN because it does not actually have the photos. It just talks about them.)

That is why strong passwords and not posting anything that you don't want to share with the world are really important.

The image below shows what the Cloud is and may make it clearer than what I have said.