March 1, 2018 | View PDF
“Keep your head to the sky
Keep your head to the sky
Don’t walk around
with your head hung down
Keep your head to the sky
Keep your head to the sky
Surely, surely the clouds
are gonna tell you why”
These lyrics are from the Platinum selling album “Head To The Sky” by the super group Earth, Wind & Fire. The inference here is that there is no need to walk around with your head hung down and feeling low - but rather, look upward in faith and believe for a better tomorrow and more successful life.
Then, there is the popular idiom that suggest that when you walk around with your “Head In The Clouds” you become “out of touch” with the reality around you or you have impractical ideas or dreams. Basically, you’re simply not focused.
These things being said, perhaps you’re a bit like me now and don’t know which school of thought to adhere to - “Do I look up to the proverbial clouds for hope or do I keep my head OUT of the clouds and accept this reality?”
Okay, I admit it - once again I’m being facetious for the sake of argument. Truth is, neither of these have anything to do with today’s “Tech Talk” article - but it’s a nice segue into our topic of “Cloud Storage!”
Stop cringing! I already see your look of uncertainty mixed with your apprehensions of the yet-to-be-explored realm of storing your data in the “clouds”. Rest assured, however, this is a place where man HAS gone before.
Let me begin by defining “Cloud Computing” which is the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data, rather than a local server or a personal computer. That said, we aren’t really talking about Computing today as much as our focus will be on data storage in the “cloud space”. Cloud Computing is for another article later.
Before you begin to express your distrust of storing data in the cloud, let me remind you that your email “resides” in a “cloud space” in practicality. Even those files you have emailed yourself for safe keeping reside on a server of your Internet Service Provider (ISP), especially if your system is setup through the imap system of mail retrieval. So, in a sense, you’ve been using the “cloud” anyway.
It’s fairly simple to understand where a file goes when you save it on your PC. It lives on your hard drive, possibly housed in a set of folders you’ve created and organized yourself. That file is only stored on your computer, unless you decide to email it to yourself or save it on an external hard drive or USB.
Now what about the cloud?
At its most basic level, “the cloud” is just fancy-talk for a network of connected servers (a server is simply a computer that provides data or services to other computers). When you save files to the cloud, they can be accessed from a computer connected to that cloud’s network. Now take that idea and multiply it to understand how the cloud works for you. The cloud is not just a few servers, but a network of many servers typically stored in a spaceship-sized warehouse—or several hundred spaceship-sized warehouses. These warehouses are guarded and managed by companies such as Google (Google Docs), Apple (iCloud), or Dropbox.
So, it’s not just some nebulous concept. It’s physical, tangible and real. When you save files to the cloud, you can access them on any computer, provided it’s connected to the Internet and you’re signed into your cloud services platform. Take Google Drive. If you use Gmail, you can access Google Drive anywhere you can access your email. Sign in for one service and find your entire library of documents and photos on another.
The largest concern everyone has, of course, is security when it comes to saving data in the cloud space. I will admit that cloud security is tight, but it’s not infallible. On the flip side, the data you save to the cloud is far more secure than it is on your own hard drive (and far less likely to be lost due to disk disaster). Cloud servers are housed in warehouses offsite and away from most employees, and they are heavily guarded. In addition, the data in those servers is encrypted, which makes hacking it a laborious, if not formidable, task for criminals.
Again, I will admit that while there is that initial foreboding feeling of helplessness you get now knowing your data being “out of your hands” and into the hands of another. Yet, as an IT professional, I cannot tell you how many times people have come into my shops wishing they had stored copies of their important data onto a cloud space such as the aforementioned ones because of data loss and hard disk disasters.
This then, is my number one reason for encouraging such a transition. It is not suggested that you completely do away with storing your data safely onto your hard drive locally and/or in conjunction with an external drive (stored safely OFFSITE from your computer) for disaster recovery, but many of the cloud storage services can offer more storage space for less money than buying external drives, and, with the added bonus of knowing that it is accessible from ANY computer or device wherein you can log in to your service using your guarded credentials.
So, in conclusion – when it comes to reasonably storing large amounts of data, I guess you CAN “keep your head to the sky” and “In the Clouds”.
Darnell Hughley is the Owner, Certified Technician and Consultant for HY-Tech Solutions, LLC having more than 23 years of total experience in the PC Repair and Consulting field.