5 Things You Didn't Know About Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is a term used to refer to the trend of moving computing to the Internet. Beginning with the widespread adaptation of home computers and continuing until recently, applications or software would be downloaded onto a physical computer or installed on a nearby server. When you clicked on the icon to begin a task, you were manipulating information directly from your computer.

With cloud computing services becoming more standard, users are having to shift the way they think about computing. Now, everything seems to be moving to the cloud. Here are five interesting angles to the concept you might not have thought of.

Flexibility

It used to be that the IT department of a company drove themselves crazy trying to meet the fluctuating bandwidth demand. Bandwidth is a cost, sometimes an expensive one, and nobody wants to pay for more than they need. Even worse might be money lost because you don’t have enough bandwidth to meet an increasing load demand. Shifting computing operations to the cloud might be an underappreciated savings to a manager still used to thinking of computing in the old way.

Computing in the online arena allows a company to add or subtract bandwidth needs on the fly. Operational agility is the term IT directors use to refer to this ability. These days, being able to quickly reduce costs during a slow period and just as quickly ramp up capability during busy times is a distinct competitive advantage.

Disaster Recovery

If there is one single advantage to working in the cloud that the layperson can easily understand, it is the ability to recover from a data disaster. A large company can more readily absorb the cost of setting up independent servers in diverse geographic locations. Automatic backups are part of the daily routine. Setups like this are expensive, though, and out of reach of many small to medium sized operations – not to mention your average home computer user. That’s where the cloud comes in.

When you move computing online, local disasters like floods, broken laptops, and faulty hard drives might wipe out a physical storage medium, but data stored off-site remains safe and secure. We’re in the midst of making the switch of thinking of software as a product to software as a service.

Automatic Updates

Wouldn’t it be great to never have to update your software again? The headache of maintaining the software system has been a thorn in the side of IT managers everywhere since the beginning of widespread computing. It seems that the updates are continuous as bugs are fixed and security issues addressed. Multiply these regular updates by the number of software packages that a company uses and, suddenly, you’ve got to pay someone who spends their day just keeping the software functional.

Running your business in the cloud removes the update problem completely. Now the vendor who sells you bandwidth and access to software is charged with keeping everything running in good order. You will never even know when the updates are applied. This adds up to a significant cost savings. It also frees up more time that you and employees can devote to doing whatever you do to turn a profit.

Say Goodbye to Hardware

As recently as five years ago, companies were stuck with the unpleasant reality of purchasing high-end software as either old hardware became obsolescent or operational requirements demanded more computing capacity. Ever priced a large-scale server and all the accessories? It’s a lot of chocolate chips. The cloud offers business owners an opportunity to ditch all that expensive circuitry and switch to a subscription-based model where you only pay for what you use.

Additionally, there’s no need to supply employees with the fastest, most expensive computer on the market anymore. All you need to access the Internet and online computing is a computer that is little more than a browser. An example of this is the Chromebook, a jazzy little $200 machine that boots up fast, thanks to a small solid state hard drive, and offers automatic rock-solid security. Large local hard drives are becoming pointless as fewer people store anything on their home computer. Even our entertainment, music and movies come to us via streaming services these days.

The Mobile Office

And here’s the biggie, probably more important to the average worker than esoteric concepts of cloud backups or endless online storage. When it gets right down to it, it’s all about the telecommute. As work shifts more to the cloud, business owners begin to see the wisdom in allowing employees to work from home, at least part of the time. Maybe all the time. What’s the sense in paying for a large physical office space, and the accompanying utilities and insurance, when you don’t have to?

Cloud computing may finally provide the elusive work-life balance that people have sought for generations, and without businesses having to sacrifice productivity! A company able to offer work from home as a benefit is a popular company indeed. According to a study by SalesForce.com, 42 percent of workers would be willing to trade part of their pay (6 percent) for the ability to telecommute.

There you have it. Cloud computing has already made significant inroads into the public lexicon. It will only become more popular in the coming years as workers and employers alike begin to see the obvious benefits of moving work into the cloud.

Popular Cloud Storage Solutions

The following services can be utilized by both iOS and Android users and accessed on Mac or PC. It is worth noting, however, that if you have an all-Apple household or multiple Android devices in your home, that there are solutions targeted specifically for your operating system.

iDrive

This platform allows you to back up contacts, photos, videos, and events on iOS, and Android users can also back up call logs and apps. Users are able to take a photo of documents for storage, and the app can even extract information to automatically create reminders.

You can backup files from Facebook and Instagram, and all your files are easily accessible via your computer or the iDrive mobile app. Files are encrypted with military-grade encryptions, so your data is secure.

The basic, 5 GB storage plan is free, and larger plans start around $52 per year for 2 TB of storage.

Dropbox

Dropbox allows you to sync files across devices manually or automatically. With Dropbox, you can store and share files with anyone, even if they don’t have a Dropbox account. There are also several collaborative tools that allow you to work on presentations, documents or photo projects with a team, anywhere you are.

The free storage limit for Dropbox is 2 GB, and paid plans start at $99 per year for 1 TB of storage.

Microsoft OneDrive

OneDrive comes preinstalled on Windows 8 and 10, and Microsoft has developed a mobile app that works across iOS, Android and Windows Phone operating systems. OneDrive will automatically tag and categorize uploaded images, and it allows you to work on collaborative projects with friends or colleagues in real-time. You can also annotate and co-author PDFs straight from your phone as well.

The basic plan offers 5 GB of free storage while the paid plans start at $69.99 per year. Premium plans allow installation on one computer and one mobile device as well as upgraded security features and advanced productivity tools.

Backblaze

This service quickly backs up your computers, mobile devices and external hard drives in a single location. Files are secured with encryption, two-factor authentication and 24/7 on-site staff. Backups can be automated, and you can order a USB flash drive or external hard drive of all your data for a fee.

You can pay $5 per month for unlimited storage or $50 per year for the same.

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