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The Cloud

What is the cloud? This is a very common question, and the answer is surprisingly simple. The cloud is a client server relationship.

The cloud

In general the cloud is the buzz word for an online client-server type relationship where applications, or data are accessed remotely. The cloud gets it name from the cloud image symbol used in diagrams to express the relationship between devices, applications, and or services that communicate with a remote computer, or server. This type of computer communication setup has been around for years, it is nothing new. However, it has become a word that just about everyone has heard, and it is no longer a strange technological term, but something most of us use daily, whether we know it or not. We access the internet, pay bills, store photos, and any action that accesses a computer or data remotely is in general accessing the cloud.

Data kept in the cloud is easy to access from any device that has internet connectivity, and will eventually eliminate the use of storage mediums like hard drives. For corporations the large motivating factor is to stop software piracy, and to generate a consist ant monthly, or yearly revenue stream. Without discs it will be practically impossible to own or store copies of creative works like music, or movies. Some consumer applications have switched to the cloud distribution model such as Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe products at one time were the most pirated programs, and switching to the cloud helped them lower overall piracy. The idea of the cloud distribution model was at first was seen as a threat by consumers, and they were reluctant to support the idea, yet in the case of Adobe consumers whom wanted discs quickly conceded and became subscribers making Adobe hundreds of millions of dollars per year. This cloud allows Adobe to make more money over time, and better protect their intellectual property. The consumer was never a concern, but I am sure Adobe claims it was all about the consumer.

An example of what the cloud actually is, a server room.

Racks & racks of servers make up the cloud.

In certain situations not having a disc is a great idea. One example is with video games, and online distribution companies like Steam or Origin have been very successful. When Steam the biggest online video game distributor first came out the gaming community was susceptible, and some were totally again Steam. Years later and Steam has become the dominant sales engine for video games, not just online. Steam has done a great job of making it easy to buy, and manage your game collection. One of the really nice benefits is your game is updated automatically, and any issues with playback are usually taken care of so all you have to do is start the game.

Other manufactures like Origin have been unable to inspire users to like their online distribution service by adding digital rights media or DRM. DRM is designed to prevent theft and companies sometimes go too far, these monitoring applications are built into their store, allowing them to know much more than they ever would need to know about your gaming usage. By adding built in digital rights management to their applications Origin confirmed the gamers suspicions about these companies and their practices. This had a negative effect for Origins online store and the backlash has lasted years. However, once there is no other options for buying disks consumers will be forced to con se de and use whatever is available.

Online backup services

The cloud also brings easily available and affordable online backup services that are an option for small to medium sized file backups, but are not as good for very large file collections, or for people with slow internet connections. If your internet is truly high speed than online cloud backup could be an ideal solution. However, security is a big concern and there are subscription fees, and connectivity issues that would need to be considered before committing to any online service. With online backup services if there website goes down you will not be able to access or backup your data. Also, if you cancel your subscription you lose access to your data and cannot recover it, and there is the risk the company could go out of business, and who knows what happens then.

There are a number of advantages to online backup services, you can access your data from anywhere and if disaster strikes you are protected as long as the disaster does not affect the provider. Another benefit is that your data is constantly backed up and can be restored from any computer at any time.

On a clear day you can see the cloud floating by.

On a clear day you can see the cloud floating by.

Criminals

First off I do not condone criminal activity. However, the conspiracy theory of big brother is watching is real. The data you store in the cloud can easily be accessed and read. The reading of the data at this time in which I know of is during the transfer to the cloud. The reading of the data goes to show it can be done and is already an accepted practice. Even though the perpetrators of certain crimes should be stopped, and punished how they are caught using the cloud, demonstrates the access granted by the end user to their data somewhere in the EULA or end license agreement that most do not read and ignore.

When you send your photos to the cloud every picture is broken down to the pixel. To clarify this when you take a picture of 12 mega pixels there are 12,000,000 individual pixels. These pixels are then read for every detail creating a fingerprint of the overall image. This is good for it intended purpose of catching child pornographers, however, it does clearly state your files are not private and are being viewed by a computer that is capable of categorizing people based on many factors.

A man on a ladder storing his items in an actual cloud.

I hope he remembers which cloud.

Backup your backup

Large corporations are moving quickly to entice consumers away from hard drives and to the cloud. There are excellent examples of how the cloud is good. I use it to provide fire proof backup. My personal photos are stored in the cloud so that I may always have them and need not worry that they could be lost due to disaster. My files on the other hand are something entirely different. I have yet to embrace the cloud as a place where all my data is stored.

Often people keep their files on one external drive and they lose everything when it fails. So, it is a good idea to backup your backup. It is also recommended to keep a backup in another location, like a fire proof safe, a safety deposit box, or online in the cloud. No matter which way you choose to backup your data it is always better to be safe than sorry.

If you need more help with the cloud consider calling PCMD we can help you to create, backup, or just teach how to store and access your files on the cloud. The cloud is an easy way to keep your precious data safe and we can help you to get started. Our service area includes Santa Maria, Orcutt, Solvang, Santa Ynez, Buellton, Santa Barbara, Goleta, Nipomo, Arroyo Grande, Pismo Beach, Grover Beach, Oceano, Shell Beach, Lompoc, Los Alamos, and surrounding areas.

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