Cloud computing is perhaps one of the most misunderstood aspects of modern technology, not because it is difficult to comprehend, but because it covers a lot of ground. At its core, according to InfoWorld, cloud computing is a method of harness virtual servers to maintain control of and access to data. Instead of storing files on your hard drive or a portable thumb drive, for example, you’re storing it “in the cloud”-or on the Internet.
This doesn’t mean much to the casual user except that cloud computing can allow you to connect with friends and family easier than ever before. You could store home movies and photographs via cloud computing, for instance, and give your friends and family members access to that media.
Flickr is an excellent example of service-based cloud computing. Users sign up for an account, upload photos and videos, then share all of it with other people. Like other forms of cloud computing, Flickr allows users to set permissions on all types of media, so if you want to connect only with friends and family, you can exclude the public.
You can also use Flickr as a storage medium. Rather than entrusting your precious photographs to the dependency of your hard drive, they get stored on Flickr, where you can retrieve them from any computer with an Internet connection. Then you decide what to do with them.
You can also connect with friends and family using cloud computing through synching services, such as Dropbox and MobileMe. These services allow you to upload any type of file you want to your account, and the data is stored in on online cloud storage system. You can connect your account to any computer to which it is downloaded, then sync the folders automatically.
I’ve used Dropbox for about six months now, and this type of cloud computing allows me to connect with friends and family because it is equipped with a Public folder. If I want to send my sister photographs, for example, I can drop pictures into the public folder and send her the automatically-generated links. It’s easier and faster than e-mailing high-resolution images.
There are often limits imposed by cloud computing programs and platforms, meaning that you are restricted to a certain limit. With Dropbox, for example, I was able to upload 2GB of data to my folder without paying. For $9.99 per month, however, I’ve increased my limit to 20GB.
Evaluate different cloud computing options to see which one(s) are most conducive to your workflow and to connecting with your friends and family. It is best if you all use the same cloud computing platform, as this will allow you to share information and media more easily.