Clouds aren’t just in the sky anymore: they’re also on the internet and they don’t rain down on you and spoil your picnic. In fact, cloud computing is indefinitely useful and it’s changing, revolutionizing even, the way we access data – both personal and shared. Soon, everything will be connected: cell phones, computers and any other device with internet capabilities; in the coming years, bank accounts and university IDs will join social networks, personal and public documents, calendars, address books, digital books, pictures and music files as cloud fodder – and they will all be synchronized.
Apple seeks to lead the pack when it comes to clouds, with its appropriately-titled “iCloud,” which syncs all the files from your iPhone, iPod, iTunes and iPad, making them available and instantly updated no matter what your access device. Google and Microsoft have also developed clouds, and it remains to be seen who will emerge victorious in the data storage wars. What is certain, though, is that clouds open up a whole new level of concern when it comes to safety and security. But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Apple and the iCloud
Announced on June 6, 2011, the iCloud concept immediately made an impact. Replacing the MobileMe service, which was a rather pricey and less integrate forerunner of the iCloud, the new technology offers up to 5 GB of storage free and can be used by both Mac and PC devotees. Purchased items, like iTunes music, books and apps, as well as Photo Stream don’t count against your iCloud space. This is huge, especially if much of your music library has indeed been bought via iTunes (ahem).
Apple is clearly banking on its sheer popularity, as it’s not uncommon for the owner of, say, an iPhone to also own an iPad, as well as a laptop of some type, probably a Macbook; truly, Apple has created a generation of die-hard, brand-loyal followers. These are the users who will get the most out of the iCloud, as the data will sync effortlessly among devices. As of July, iCloud has over 150 million users.
The benefits of the iCloud, which is in effect a form of remote data storage – and therefore a kind of a “backing up” method – are obvious. No longer will university students have to email their word documents to themselves for printing (because let’s face it, universities’ primitive cloud-type storage was a pain in the rear); no longer will anyone have to worry about losing precious pictures and five years’ worth of downloaded music if their laptop crashes and dies.
Additional cloud storage is available for purchase up to 50 GB; that would run you $20 per year. Windows users who want in on the iCloud action must have either Windows Vista or Windows 7 using iCloud control panel as well as updated web browsers and an Outlook account.
Microsoft and Google Check In
Microsoft’s SkyDrive, which continues the metaphor that describes all this data as floating around above our heads, is a competitive offering that gives its users a whopping 25 GB of space for free. It also lets subscribers share data through groups or email. The concept is very much the same as the iCloud’s, except with one significant – and very cool – twist: Microsoft Office documents can be created, shared, edited and viewed within the web browser used to open the SkyDrive page. Google, who has come to dominate the email account market among younger users, released Google Drive on April 24 of this year; it is now the home of the popular Google Docs, which has long benefited professional and scholarly users with cloud-based technology. Further, the Google Docs App gives users all the features of the web browser version, but in the palm of their hand.
Security is naturally a concern in this cloud territory; what could be more terrifying than someone hacking accounts? You might as well just hand a thief your social security card. Businesses and companies which could benefit from their own cloud storage accounts might hesitate because of security concerns, but powerful encryption exists and is deployed to keep sensitive data safe. This is [tp lang=”en” only=”y”]why Trend Micro[/tp][tp not_in=”en”]why Trend Micro[/tp] is so essential: it offers businesses the best reliable protection to ensure cloud security.
Guest article written by: Rodney Haines is an IT expert who freelances on the side. He has been a proud Apple fanboy since college, when he saw Steve Jobs deliver a speech and was instantly captivated by the man’s presence, as well as the technology he spoke of. Once he got his hands on a Mac, he could not let go. Haines is eagerly awaiting the newest iPhone model.