What do people mean when they say it’s in the ‘cloud’?


What is all this gobbly-goop that people talk about when they say they’re putting something ‘in the cloud’? .  


Have you ever had thoughts of what would happen if your computer went ‘nigh-nigh’ and went CAPUT!  No?! Well it can and does happen.  In 2010, a ‘Global Data Backup Survey’  by ConsumerStatistics (which included New Zealand) concluded ‘67% of people had lost photos on their computer, and that 51% had lost photos within the past year’. This is frightening! There are many things that could cause this to happen, for example:


·      You open an email and now a virus is deleting everything.


·      Your  cup of tea just got spilt all over your laptop;


·       You dropped your phone while at the shops and now it doesn’t work.


That sinking feeling when you realise …… 


you might have lost …..all of your photos… all of your memories. Have you ever heard anyone say: I’ve lost all of my photos.   Often this will be followed up by something along the lines of:

·      I meant to back it up but I never got around to it (in reality it’s often just too confusing, and the kids said they would do it), or

·      My laptop was stolen, or

·      I don’t know what happened, it just stopped working.  


If your computer has been backed up you can relax a bit, knowing that whatever you had backed up at the time of your last back up you will still have.  However, if you haven’t done a back up (or it’s been sometime) you could be in trouble. The first thing to do in this case would be to call a computer expert (or friend or family member with a comprehensive knowledge) and they may be able to recover some or all of the information from your computer, but not in every case.  If everything was restored, I would imagine that you would let out a big sigh of relief (and tell yourself that you will always backup your computer in the future).  


As great as this is, backing up your photos (traditionally done to an external hard drive) doesn’t help in all situations (e.g. if  a fire destroyed your computer and external hard drive – as many people store them in the same place). It is also a fact that a back up is only as good as the last one. So if you backed up you computer a year ago and let’s say a daughters wedding happened since, well you can guess what I’m going to say…. your photos won’t necessarily be there if that cup of coffee lands on your laptop etc. So what can you do?

One solution is the cloud!

So is there a cloud that could perhaps help? A cloud with a silver lining perhaps, that would allow you to get back your memories, with minimal fuss, complexity and cost????

Yes, there is – ‘the cloud’ which has become very popular over the last few years.


So… what is the cloud?

The cloud is a way of storing and easily being able to access information on the internet. The cloud offers you a way to store files so that they are in a additional safe place, other than just your computer. The cloud also means you can access your stuff again and again from any computer / phone/ laptop that you might own, and easily share it with others (if you want too!).  The cloud means that with the use of a user name and password you can access your data from anywhere in the world, be it your favourite chair in your living room, the local library or your sisters house across the ditch in Melbourne. 

You can use the cloud to store just about anything you might create on a computer.


Examples of the cloud storage include:


·      Flickr (photo storage and sharing)


·      Google Drive (associated with Gmail)


·      DropBox (one of the popular sites)


·      One Drive (Apple)


and there are many more. Most of them are free (and have options for upgrading if you want more space and options).

Once you have downloaded the applicable app onto your computer you can drag and drop or save your files into the relevant folder (e.g. DropBox has a folder that you can see in your finder panel and you simply save your things in there).  Flickr – a site great for sharing and storing photos – allows you to upload directly to the website etc.  The great thing about the cloud is that many of the options out there can be set up to automatically back up your files anytime you make a change – even it’s just adding one word. This way the fear of ‘when did I last do a back up to my external hard-drive’ becomes a little less relevant.  By the way, I am a firm believer that you should also back things up to an external hard drive, but that it’s much much better to back things up to the cloud than to nothing at all. It is best to use a combination of  a Cloud service, and an external hard drive, and also not to forget good old printed paper.

There are also a bunch of other cool things that the cloud can do (such as sharing a bunch of photos in the most easy way imaginable – no more crashing an inbox or spending what feels like forever adding attachments one by one).  


So now if a cup of coffee is accidentally spilt on your computer and the computer fix-it guy says that it’s too damaged and the files ‘non-recoverable’ you can simply go onto another computer, log in and voila- your photos / half-written novel (and just about anything else you might want to save) is there! J  Awesome! 


If you enjoyed this article please share it with a friend that you think it would help. Thank you – have an awesome day!! 


About the author: Claire is the owner of PhotoSort – a business which specialises in teaching you how to make sense of this technology world that we live in with a particular focus on photography. 

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