“The cloud” seems to be an imaginary entity that everyone knows about but no one can define. You have undoubtedly been a part of this infamous “cloud” at one point or another, but you may not have known it. The cloud represents any document management system that utilizes the internet to store and retrieve files. If you can access your documents from your laptop, smartphone, tablet computer, or other web-related device, you’re using the cloud.
How the Cloud Works
Think of the cloud as a large repository of information with virtually no boundaries. This is where all of your email attachments and shared files go on the web. Whenever you pull up an information management program, the system weeds through the millions of other files in the cloud to find exactly what you’re looking for. It does this in a blink of an eye, giving you instant access to your information from any internet portal.
Documents never truly leave the cloud, but you can delete their accessibility through a cloud product. Other people have no access to the documents you have in the cloud unless they know what to search for. If you send an email with an attachment, the recipient will have access to the file because you permitted him or her to do so. Otherwise, the files you put into the cloud are completely private.
Programs That Use the Cloud
Most email programs use the cloud to store attachments, drafts, and general information users need access to in their accounts. Your school’s email system likely uses the cloud in one way or another to keep track of documents sent through it. Any time you send an email with a picture or document attached, that file goes into the cloud for the recipient to access later on. Other message systems, like the PM systems on forums and social networks, employ the cloud to store attachments in a similar way.
Email accounts can only store and transfer a limited amount of information, which is why most users will rely on cloud products like Dropbox to access their files. Dropbox is a file sharing program that allows you to access large files from multiple computers through a built-in “dropbox” on your computer. You can choose to share specific documents with other Dropbox users, or you can transfer an entire folder to multiple computers. All of this works through the cloud. The free version will hold 2GB of data, which is usually plenty for mild transfers. I use one for a few clients I work with, and it has been more than sufficient. If you need more storage though, there are paid versions that you can consider.
Evernote is a similar program that allows users to take notes that they can access from any internet portal. Evernote users can save their favorite websites, interesting pictures, itineraries, travel documents, and more on the web, so they can retrieve their files whenever they need to. Furthermore, Evernote helps employers and colleagues manage their workflow by allowing users to share work notes and project details with one another through this cloud product. It takes collaboration to a new level.
You may not be able to see or touch the cloud, but it exists all around you. You use it for your online degree program and your personal web usage all the time. As long as you are using the internet to store or transfer information, you are participating in cloud computing.
With the right document management system on hand, you should have no trouble retrieving all the information you need, no matter where you are at the time.