Get started with cloud computing

Store and share documents, photos and other files online using the Cloud

Get started with cloud computing

Every time you share a photo with your friends on Facebook or Instagram, you’re taking part in a revolutionary change that’s affecting the way we store and access information.

Your documents, movies and pictures are moving away from being stored solely on computer drives, on cameras and on phones and are finding their way online instead. Welcome to the world of cloud computing.

One of the key reasons for this change is the huge growth in devices like smartphones and tablets. By and large, these devices simply don’t have enough built-in storage for you to carry gigabytes of data around and in many cases you don’t need to.

When you upload something to the ‘cloud’ it gets sent to a server farm (a cluster of computer servers with thousands of terabytes of storage), where it’s stored by the ‘cloud computing’ company you have signed up with.

The benefit of all this is that everything you create and upload is available to you online all the time, enabling you to access your data whenever, wherever and however you need to.

Cloud services

One great example of the way cloud computing works is Dropbox.

Dropbox is an online storage service which lets you upload documents, photos and other files and then easily access them on all your devices – phone, tablet, computer – without having to keep individual copies of a particular file in each place.

All you need to do is sign up for Dropbox and then download the Dropbox app for each platform you want to access your files on. Sign in using the Dropbox on your smartphone and, after a little while, all the files you’ve uploaded to Dropbox elsewhere will be available for you on your phone. Simple.

In sync

Another benefit of cloud computing is that it enables you to keep all your gadgets in sync. Change an address in your Contacts book on your phone, for example, and the changes will automatically be pushed to all your other devices so you’ll have the same information on whatever you’re using at a particular time.

To access these features you’ll need to sign up to a cloud computing service like Apple iCloud, which is available free on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Mac; Google Drive for Android smartphones and tablets; and Outlook and Sky Drive for Windows Phone-powered mobiles.

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter are also examples of cloud-based services as any information you share using them is uploaded to their servers so they can be easily accessed by friends, family, etc. Other examples of cloud-based services include Flickr, Google Docs and Amazon Cloud Player.

To help you get a hang of how it all works, click here to read our guide to how to sign up for a free account on cloud-based photo sharing service Flickr.

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