Surpassing earthly boundaries, digital data storage has set up shop in the firmament. “The Cloud” is an increasingly popular term for remote data centers, usually with astronomical storage capacity, which people can access via the Internet using their various devices.
Attempting to mimic the convenience of cloud computing, new technology allows people to set up a “personal cloud” on their home networks. Let’s backtrack and first take a moment to talk about the “public” cloud.
The Public Cloud
The cloud refers to anything from Dropbox, a storage space for personal files, to Netflix, a reservoir of movies and TV shows people can stream to their computers, tablets and phones. Internet giants like Google, Apple and Facebook all offer various forms of cloud services, which is often referred to as third-party data storage because the company that is hosting the data is separate from the entity that owns the data and the entity accessing it.
Based on private analysis, Gartner Inc., a technology research firm, believes cloud computing will continue to grow precipitously going forward.
“The reign of the personal computer as the sole corporate access device is coming to a close, and by 2014, the personal cloud will replace the personal computer at the center of users’ digital life,” the report concluded.
The popularity of the cloud stems from convenience and reliability. Conveniently, one can access his or her files anywhere the Internet is available. In addition, the cloud is reliable as a way to back up data. With traditional storage methods such as on a home computer or external hard drive, there is a risk of hardware failure, like when your computer breaks or you drop your external hard drive or iPod. As you might imagine, a cloud is significantly more difficult to destroy, and it’s a safe place for your data.
The Personal Cloud
Sharing is at the heart of cloud computing. Cloud services provide smart and easy-to-use channels to selectively make files available to friends, family and colleagues.
The personal cloud, like its public counterpart, can be a great tool for families. It is a convenient way to have a centralized location for pictures, videos and songs, stored right in your own home. Also, it allows for the peace of mind of having data automatically backed up in a safe, secure and nearby location, without having to wonder whether or not third parties have access to your private and personal information.
On the downside, security and privacy are serious concerns many have with sending data into the digital stratosphere. What are those companies doing with all that data you are sending to them anyway? Maybe they are using the information to build a marketing profile that they will turn around and sell to advertising companies.
Enter the personal cloud, a piece of hardware that works with your wireless router. When configured, the device automatically saves data from home computers, tablets, phones and game consoles onto a localized cloud. The data can be accessed by any device within the wireless network — like your smartphone, tablet and laptop.
When it comes to digital data storage, unlike weather, a cloudy horizon may not be foreboding. Thanks to the convenience of cloud computing, the days of toting around disks and drives (both floppy and hard) will soon be as out-of-date as yesterday’s iPhone.