The cloud. For all the buzz that surrounds it, there's still a lot of confusion around what it actually is. As a result, a lot of people are being told they need to move to the cloud, without knowing what that means or where to begin. If you're in that camp, fear not. We'll let you in on a secret — there's a very good chance you're already using the cloud, and you don't even know it. In fact, we're willing to bet that you use the cloud every single day. But first let's take a step back and define the cloud. In essence, it's just a network of servers — which are large, super-powerful computers. Anything that's referred to as "cloud-based" or "in the cloud" means it primarily lives online, instead of on something physical in your possession like a CD or your computer's hard drive. A good rule of thumb for determining whether something is "cloud-based" is asking yourself the following question: Can I easily log into this service from another device, like my phone or a different computer? If the answer is yes, then the service is probably based in the cloud. Reflecting back on the various services, websites, and apps you use throughout the day — and using that rule of thumb as your lens — you'll likely see that many of them are classified as "cloud technology." For example:
- If you can check your email on your computer and also with an app on your phone, you're using a cloud-based email service.
- If you can log into one of your social media accounts (like Facebook or LinkedIn) on your friend's computer as well as on your own laptop, it's cloud-based as well.
- If you can start drafting a blog post in a content management system like WordPress, save it from your work computer, and then continue editing it from your iPad on the train... you guessed it, you're using the cloud.
How does that translate to file storage and sharing? In the case of Dropbox, because we're cloud-based, you'll always be able to access and work with the files in your account, from any of your devices. So if you create a PowerPoint presentation on your work computer, you can review it on your tablet before the big client meeting because you'll automatically have the latest version. Want to learn more about how this works? Check out our recent article: What is this file sync thing and why should I care about it?