025: What is this Cloud thing?

What is this cloud thing all about? Do I need an umbrella?

The Cloud is many different things depending on who you are, but in its most basic form the cloud is a bunch of server computers that can store and process your data.

Back in the early days of the internet, it would be common to use a diagram of your computer connected to the Internet which was a big cloud then connected to a website or whatever somewhere else. The reason it was pictured as a cloud is because the internet is designed to always find the fastest way but it may not be the same way every time, so it seemed to disappear into a cloud and then come back out the other end.

The internet then sort of became synonymous with a cloud. Later as the internet started to do more than just be pictures and text on webpages,
the concept of internet-based server computing and storage was born and
dubbed Cloud Computing.

What this means for you and I is that the internet (or cloud) can both store and process things for us, without them being tied to our computer. Once this video you are watching was completed and edited by me, I uploaded it to YouTube’s server. The servers there process it into multiple formats and store it for me waiting for you to watch. YouTube is a cloud service.

Gmail is a cloud service. We log into the Gmail site and there is all of our email. Google received it for us, stores it, processes it and, if we ask it to, it forwards it to others or reply or whatever. They also handle the backups for us.

Backups and storage are a huge part of the cloud. Several companies have built huge businesses storing data for individuals and for each other. The massive economies of scale of these giant data centers, scattered all over
the world, with really fast connections in between them, mean companies can store huge amounts of data and quickly replicate it around the world.

It’s really reassuring to know that not only is my file accessible from anywhere it’s stored in many places, so that if a particular part of the world suffers some sort of disaster, it’s not the only copy.

Back in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck the Eastern USA, the data center where I housed several of my websites at the time was mildly impacted, with several outages over a few days. 13 years on, the internet is a different place and that same site can be replicated across the cloud with virtually no downtime.

The theory is all well and good, but how do you, the viewer, make use of the cloud? You probably already are making some use of it, with services like iCloud, Gmail Google Drive, Dropbox, Facebook or YouTube.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing some more specifics on these topics but I needed to lay the groundwork first.

I hope that was really useful. At The Tech Doctor Network, our goal is to help you feel comfortable with your computer. Come back every weekend for new videos. Scroll down, hit subscribe and ring the bell to be notified when new episodes are out.

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Thank you so much for watching and have a great day.

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