Cloud storage: What is it and how does it work?

“The cloud” is a major buzzword in computing right now, but its meaning is rather, well, cloudy for most people. Nevertheless, chances are high that you’ve already used the cloud, even if you may not have known it at the time. Media sharing services like Flickr, Instagram and YouTube? They use the cloud. Webmail clients like Gmail and Hotmail? Banking apps? Those too. Read on and we’ll see if we can’t dispel the fog a little…

At its heart, cloud computing involves using the power of the internet to outsource tasks you might traditionally perform on a personal computer – anything from handling simple storage to complex development and processing – to a vast and powerful remote network of interconnected machines.

This outsourcing is handy for the casual user who is fed up of having to free up space on their hard drive or purchase new storage for all the cat/baby/food photos they can’t stop taking. It’s even better for businesses that want to use the cloud for processing and storage – because users only pay for what they use.

Think about it. Back in the day, companies purchased computing infrastructure based on what they figured they might need now and in the next couple of years. Fearing what would happen if they underestimated demand, they tended to over-buy only to then have the equipment sit around idle. Not only that; business software is expensive. Not to mention the servers, networks, bandwidth, power, cooling, office space, and the experts needed to install, configure and run the whole caboodle.

Cloud computing allows businesses to run essential programs and applications through the Internet, saving them time, space, hassle and lots and lots of money. Billing for cloud services works just like the way you pay for utilities like gas and electricity in your home; it’s pay-as-you- go. The cloud is also extremely flexible. For heavy tasks, clients have instant access to scaled-up computing power on the fly. When they’re done with it they simply release it back to the cloud.

For more detailed information on how cloud computing works, go to