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Most people have heard someone say “the cloud”, and have no idea what is being spoken of. Others hear it and think that it is just something that businesses use. In reality, you are already using “the cloud”, and don’t even know it.

What is the cloud?

The term “cloud”, when it comes to the internet, has been around for quite a while now. It came into popular usage around 10 years ago, and yet there are still many people that don’t know what it means.

There is a popular phrase about the cloud that people say as a joke, but it is one of those jokes that is funny because it’s true. “The cloud is just someone else’s computer.” Whenever someone speaks of the cloud, they are speaking about things that are done by you and for you using other people’s computers. In reality, we could say that pretty much everything you do on the internet is cloud computing, but I think that makes it much too vague, and it is not useful, because that makes “the cloud” mean the same thing as “the internet”.

Interestingly, likening the cloud to the internet is appropriate in one sense. When the internet first came to the mainstream, most people didn’t know what it was. Many people started using it, and didn’t know it. Still today, you have people that mistake the web for the internet and don’t realize it is so much more. The term “the cloud” has been around for a while, but most people still don’t know what it is. Many people use it and don’t know it. In the end, you really only need to know what it is in order to not feel stupid when people talk about it.

If you use Gmail, you are using the cloud. If you use Yahoo Mail, Hotmail, or any other web-based email, you are using the cloud. If you use Dropbox, iCloud, OneDrive, or any other online storage service, you are using the cloud. If you use Google Docs, you are using the cloud. All the programs you use that you access through the internet and don’t install on your computer are cloud computing platforms. All the storage services you use that allows you to have the same data in multiple places at the same time are cloud-based storage systems.

What is so great about the cloud?

The big advantage to cloud computing is, you can do something in one place, and have it accessible on all devices you have access to the internet on. I can store a file in my Dropbox folder at my office, and I can then go home and that file will be stored on my home computer. It will also be on my phone. I can start to write a document in Google Docs at home, and finish it up at work. I can start composing an email on my phone, using Gmail, and finish writing it and sending it on my tablet. I am never without those things I have used the cloud to do.

Hopefully, this gives you a better understanding of what the cloud is, and what it can be used for, and you never have to feel embarrassed by not knowing what it means.