What is the Cloud and what does it mean for me?

Several of my students have questioned “What exactly is the Cloud, anyway? Should I store my photos there?” and I think this information is useful enough for me to share with YOU! So read on to learn more about how the basics of how the Cloud works, and what this means for you…

What is the Cloud?

The Cloud is a resource that you can access remotely using the internet, and often refers to software or file storage. By accessing these resources remotely, you don’t have to store those files or software locally on your computer. It frees up space!

mom uploading pictures to the cloud from her laptop in living room

Here are some of the ways that you can (or may already!) use cloud computing and storage in your own life…

SOFTWARE

If you use Google Drive, then you are already familiar with a Cloud-based service… Instead of typing up a text document using software you’ve installed on your computer (such as Microsoft Word), your Google Doc is accessed via your web browser. This access also makes it easier to collaborate with other colleagues and friends on your document.

Photographers often use Adobe Lightroom and/or Photoshop as part of their editing process. These are both available as part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud, a service based on a monthly description fee that makes those software programs available remotely over the internet instead of having to install them directly onto your computer.

PHONE SERVICES

Most mobile phone providers will offer a Cloud option for you to store pictures and videos. Some Android devices will conveniently sync to your Google Drive account, storing photos there. Your pictures are simply moved from your phone to the cloud; they are not lost! Cloud storage for your cell phone device is a simple way to free up space on your phone, to allow for more apps and pictures, without requiring you to manually upload them to some other device (or risk losing them entirely!).

Often your mobile phone plan will allow for a certain amount of free cloud storage for your photos and documents before you have to start paying… it’s definitely worth looking into.

BACKUP STORAGE

If you take pictures on a camera other than your cell phone, then you have to store those image files somewhere. You probably already upload them from your camera’s memory card onto your computer/laptop/some other device… But those image files are HUGE and all that space definitely adds up when you take a lot of pictures!

Rather than store thousands of files on your computer’s hard drive and slow down your system, many people will invest in an external hard drive to contain all of these pictures. An external hard drive will plug right into your main computer and allows for you to store your files directly on that drive. This is a fantastic solution to clean up your hard drive, yes, but it still begs the question: what if that external hard drive fails? Or how would you retrieve your pictures in the case of a home disaster? You never know when you may become the victim of a house fire or flood, and the last thing you want to lose is all your memories!

I recommend a cloud-based backup solution online for this reason. For every image that you have stored on your external hard drive, you should also keep a copy on an online storage system. I use Smugmug to backup my personal files and absolutely love it, but there are a lot of other options out there (including iDrive, Dropbox, and Backblaze all of which I have used successfully at one point). You may even opt for a photo sharing network such as Flickr that not only stores your photos, but also allows you to easily share them with your friends and family.

mom taking cell phone pictures at the beach with her baby

For the record, when you store something on the cloud, it just isn’t hanging out in the sky in a million tiny pieces (Willa Wonka, anyone?)… Your information actually is stored in a network of servers that you can access on demand at your convenience using the internet. Remember that anything on the internet is susceptible to hackers- even your own computer! – but those same hackers are much more likely to go after a giant server than they are your little home computer. So security is always something to consider when you decide which photos you plan to upload to the cloud.

So that’s the gist of it. Want to talk more about how to make the cloud work for you? Contact me for mentoring options…… I’d love to chat!

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