How cloud storage works

Cloud computing icon

 In our business, we’ve found that while many people fear the cloud, they don’t realize they’ve actually been in it for years. Did you know social media services and webmail services are both cloud-based services?

In fact, cloud storage is probably safer than the mailbox at your house!

What is the cloud?

There’s a joke that the cloud is really just someone else’s computer, and that’s not far from the truth.

Usually when someone refers to the cloud, they’re talking about a vast and powerful remote network of interconnected machines set up with security and scalability in mind.

Cloud storage

When we talk about cloud storage, there are personal solutions and business solutions. For simplicity’s sake, let’s talk briefly about personal solutions so you can understand how it works.

Years ago, if you needed additional storage space for your personal computer, your only real option was to buy a new hard drive. You had to drive to the store, take a look at the limited options they had there, pick the one you thought would work best, drive home, connect it to your computer, and then hope it met your needs for a while.

Now, if you need additional storage space for your personal computer, you can quickly sign up on a cloud storage website to get that space. Often they offer a free option with a limit on either the amount of space or the amount of time it’s free. But you can extend that time or space relatively easily by paying for it.

Cloud storage for companies

As you can imagine, there are additional concerns when you get into business solutions for cloud storage. You have to be more concerned about things like:

  • Security
  • Scalability
  • Multiple users

But at a fundamental level, the goal is the same as personal cloud storage: You want somewhere to store your files.

What happens when you upload something into the cloud?

Regardless of whether you’re uploading photos, syncing up your calendar, or storing remote copies of backup files, the process is similar.

  • The file or data is copied from your device and sent to the server for the service you’re using.
  • It arrives at their master control data server. That server then directs it to the appropriate storage server.
  • Your file or data then arrives at its final destination. That often means it’s actually spread across multiple servers in the cloud. It may also be encrypted, in separate geographic locations, and duplicated for redundancy.

Usually that final destination is referred to as a data center. If you’re picturing a huge warehouse with thousands of computers, you’re probably right.

Of course, an IT professional can usually advise you on which, if any, cloud storage solution is the best for your needs.

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