Opening the Umbrella: What is Cloud Storage?

A study was conducted by Citrix in September 2012 to determine whether or not Americans know about cloud computing. The study found that 54 percent of Americans claim to never use cloud computing — though they have online banking accounts, store accounts, and even music accounts online.

This shows that many Americans use practical services everyday but are not familiar with the official terminology found in the world of the Internet. If Americans do not recognize cloud computing, it’s also possible that the term “cloud storage” is unknown as well. This begs the question, “What is cloud storage?”

Cloud storage is a term that applies to the preservation of files, documents, photos, and music (and other data) in an online cloud account. Since cloud computing refers to shopping at Amazon, for example, Amazon’s Instant Video service is an example of cloud storage.

If you have an iPad and download Amazon’s Instant Video app, you will find that all your videos purchased on Instant Video are saved in the cloud — as opposed to being saved on your own device.

The benefit of cloud storage for your videos is that you can always access this online instead of having to use up internal memory storage on your own device.

One point that should be made regarding cloud storage is that it is not “virtual,” if by the term something other than the real thing is meant. Cloud storage preserves real documents, files, and other account information.

If you have a banking account with Wells Fargo or Bank of America, for example, you have an online account of your finances; at the same time, however, you cannot simply add money to your account that does not exist in the bank in real life.

The online account is simply a representation (via the Internet) of your real-time finances. If you want to test this out, go the bank and withdraw some of your cash. If your bank account says $0, it is a fact that you have no money in the bank. If you have a negative balance because you’ve withdrawn too much, you must pay real-time money to the bank to restore your balance to a positive number and get your bank out of the red.

Do you listen to a lot of music online? If you have an iTunes account, then you understand the meaning of cloud storage. iTunes, like other cloud storage accounts, guards your videos and music without needing to download them onto your device. Anytime you want to watch a movie without downloading it and consuming your internal memory storage, log in to your iTunes account and select the movie you want to watch. The same goes for your music purchased through iTunes.

While the question “What is cloud storage?” can be answered with a simple definition, it is more complex than the definition gives away. Cloud storage consists of not only storage accounts for your banking and shopping accounts; cloud storage also consists of special cloud storage accounts through cloud storage providers.

These cloud storage accounts allow you to save more of your files and documents in an online account that can be accessed anywhere at any time. When you sign up for cloud storage, cloud storage providers require that you claim a username and password (as you would with any online account).

Next, you can either be content with the storage provider’s free storage deal (anywhere from 2GB to 5GB free storage) or purchase a storage plan of your own. If you purchase storage, you can then begin to save documents and files from your devices to your online storage.

Cloud storage providers, in addition to free cloud storage, provide a social benefit: for each individual you refer to the cloud storage service, you receive a certain amount of additionally free cloud storage in return. In some cases, signees have been able to receive up to 20GB or 30GB of free cloud storage by referring numerous relatives and friends to certain cloud storage providers.

What are the advantages of cloud storage? Some of the advantages are as follows:

  • convenient access to files and documents
  • maintain backup copies of files and documents in case your local hard drive is wiped clean or local documents and files are deleted by accident
  • Saves space on memory storage that is available on your device

The first advantage of cloud storage is convenient access to files and documents. One of the co-founders of the cloud storage provider Dropbox founded the company because he was tired of sending research papers and documents to his email in order to access them at the local college library.

Having an extra place to store his documents was a nice alternative to opening his email account each time he wanted to retrieve a document. The same goes for many individuals who have access to a file by way of their smartphone or tablet. Instead of sending emails and consuming more time, your cloud storage account can automatically backup your files and documents. Now, you can access them without worry.

The next advantage of cloud storage pertains to backup copies of files and documents in case of an emergency. If you delete a file by accident on your device, where do you go to retrieve it?

Most consumers do not realize that they take a gamble with their devices when they concentrate on saving every file and document on their local memory storage (without considering cloud storage). If you should delete a file one day and do not have a backup copy, the information is lost forever.

With cloud storage providers, you can still access the earlier version of the document even if you deleted the document three hours later. If you make changes to a document and then regret the changes you make (and want the earlier version), there are no worries: simply log in to your online storage account and retrieve them.

Last but not least, cloud storage will save you the loss of local memory storage on your devices. If you have saved as many pictures as you can on your Nexus 4 or iPhone 5, for instance, and you cannot save any more, do not panic — create a Gmail account under your Google + app (download it from the App Store) and then sync your documents and files with your Google + account by way of a setting feature known as “Instant Upload.”

Once you do this, you can experience Google’s unlimited cloud storage without purchasing iCloud storage from Apple. Google’s photo storage is unlimited; whether you save 500 photos or 5,000 photos by way of Instant Upload, your photos will be stored there until you delete them.

What is cloud storage? Cloud storage is a convenient way to manage the local internal memory storage on your devices (which you pay for) and the need for additional data storage that you do not have on your device.

Every document, file, song, and book (for e-readers and tablets) must be stored in some form of storage — whether on the device or via an online account. By using cloud storage, you are employing an emergency strategy that will come in handy, should you find yourself “standing in the rain.”