To Cloud or Not to Cloud?

These days, as we become more and more dependent on Smart Phones and other communication devices, we see more references to storing our data on that strange thing called “The CLOUD“.

So, here is an explanation for the common man about just what a “CLOUD” happens to be, as well as some suggestions on how to use it to our advantage.

Where is Your Data anyway?
Well, in a big city, somewhere on our planet, there is a special building.

You may drive past it everyday and if you actually take a close look at it you will probably just shrug it off as yet another ugly warehouse.

But, if you look a little closer you will notice some things that most warehouse buildings do not have.

First of all, there will probably be very large power lines attached to the building, if they are not actually buried underground.

Second, if you can see the roof, or maybe just around the building, there will be some very large and powerful Air Conditioning units that seem to run constantly.

Third, the building will probably have very few windows, and in all probability, the whole building will be surrounded by; a formidable fence, with multiple cameras on poles, and a manned security gate.

These are all signs that a building is housing something that requires special care and protection.

Living on an island and using the “Cloud”

Get off of your “data island” and use the Cloud for more storage. | Source
A Cloud is really just another computer Hard Drive ……. somewhere.
If you are a “Cloud” user then that building probably stores your personal data.

It is stored there and updated every time you log on with your PC or Tablet or Smartphone via a WIFI modem. Your data that you have designated as being available for storage on some company’s “Cloud” system is kept here, on super-fast hard drives or high-speed digital memory cards.

Kind of sounds like just another Hard Drive, doesn’t it? You know, just like the one already in your PC?

Well, essentially, that’s it; The Cloud access you purchased is just another hard drive for you to access and use remotely.

The genius was the invention of the term “Cloud”. It is beautiful, you have to admit! They give you a link to their centralized data storage systems, and call it a Cloud.

You think WOW! My data is up there, in the clouds, just floating around and ready for me to access it, and I don’t have to worry about it being secure, or about it being destroyed. And, it only costs me $XX Bucks a month! WOW!

I can be in my favorite Coffee Shop, or in the MALL, or at home, and I can access and use my stored data.

Of course, wherever I might be, I do need for there to be a WIFI access point that will give me access to the web to get there.

Your Personal Cloud
Yes, I have my own “Cloud”. I purchased my own hard drive, connected it to my web site and set it up so that I could easily access it when I traveled around the country in my RV.

I love it, because, I now own and control MY CLOUD, not some corporation managed hard drive situated somewhere else around the world.

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What does WIFI mean?
We have all become accustomed to having our WIFI access to the web. This may be a little anticlimactic, but WIFI is actually an acronym for; Wireless Fidelity, Wireless Internet.

Decades ago, companies started pulling those expensive ethernet cables from the walls and setting up WIFI repeaters for their employees mostly in order to save money.

At the same time, the Desktop Computers of the world began hitting the junk heaps and we all got our new and, by the way, very portable, Notebook PCs and Tablets with built-in WIFI transceivers.

We employees got to use these newer, smaller and faster computers because it was cheaper for companies to allow workers to be more mobile and not always have search around and find a cable just for internet access.

And, of course, the standardization of the WIFI protocol, along with the dramatic drop in cost for WIFI modems, routers and buffers, gave employees the freedom to take their data and work with them wherever they might be.

In fact there were two new technologies that fed on each other.

One, the proliferation of these newer PCs with a built in WIFI modem, drove a new and expanded demand for more WIFI access in more places.

Two, the fact that WIFI access was becoming available almost everywhere, in locations like; Coffee Shops, Shopping Malls, Doctors Waiting Rooms, Airports, Train Stations, just to name a few, drove the exploding demand for more PCs with WIFI Modems.

So again just exactly what is WIFI?

Oh, don’t worry! I will not drop into some rant of technical jargon. Perhaps you have heard people mention the words eight-oh-two-dot-eleven (802.11).

Well whether you have or not, it is a strictly defined protocol for the digital hand-shake transfer of data between two modems via a Low Power RF connection.

So, if your PC has an 802.11 modem, the software in your PC will detect if there is another 802.11 modem within range.

If there is one or more possible connections, and you know the Login and Password codes for that particular modem, then your PC will essentially be connected securely to a particular web site by way of this modem to modem link.

Simple, Right?

So, just go with it, Today, people are walking around, all over the world, with their Notebook PCs, Tablets, Smart Phones, headsets and even wristwatches that have WIFI built in.

And they all want to get connected, wherever they go!

What is your Data, anyway?
As I have already mentioned, that building I described is storing your data for you.

And your data? Your data consists of what you designate as your most valuable information that you have saved on your PC hard drive for years that you don’t want to lose.

You know, such things as; your digital photo collection, your emails from friends, your favorite music that you converted years ago, your family videos, your collection of your favorite concert videos, even your copies of your favorite movies.

And, of course, you data includes such things as; your folders of scanned receipts, scanned documents, income tax filings, and your scanned birth certificates and other documents of your children, to name just a few.

This list is your data that, although it may be useless to others, is invaluable to you. And as I said you keep it on your Hard Drive, at home and if you are a proactive person, you consider your security as having it all backed up on another hard drive of your own.

What is a Data Cloud?
So, now that the basics are out of the way, you should understand that Data stored on a “Cloud” is simply just your data stored on a hard drive owned by a company that charges you for data storage and management.

That’s it!

Generally, to hook you, the average person, will “give you a small amount of storage on their cloud for free. For instance, 2-G-bytes or 5-G-bytes is typical.

But, if you need more space at some point in the future, then you have to pay them for the added storage capacity, monthly.

Why should I want to use a Cloud Service
Now you ask yourself, why do I want to store my data on a Cloud system.

Honestly, the only realistic answer is that you will have access to your data wherever you go that you have a WIFI connection to the web. And, under some conditions, this is a very valuable thing to them having access essentially anywhere they might be.

Secondly, your data is stored, kept secure from hackers and such and backed up on a big professionally managed system for you.

These are good things that we all want, security and access.

SO, do you Cloud or do you Not Cloud? That’s your question to answer.

by Don Bobbitt, 2014

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