Amy Westlake

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What is the cloud?

Note: I wrote this article as part of a job application, it is aimed at beginners.

If you’ve ever spent time around department managers you’ve probably heard them talk about the cloud. It’s a buzzword that people love to throw around but what does it actually mean? Think about your files, let’s say you create and save a word document on your laptop but then have to leave your computer to go to an interview. That document is saved on your laptop and you’ll need your laptop to read or continue editing it. What if you could save the document somewhere so that you can view it on other devices? That’s where the cloud comes in.

The cloud is a server which could be anywhere in the world where you upload your files to. You could then access that server from your smartphone, your desktop or any other internet connected device to retrieve your document.

A good example of this is the online storage application Dropbox which does exactly that – you upload a file and then access it from any device. How about Netflix? Those movies aren’t stored on your computer, they are hosted on multiple servers ready to be accessed by any device. For developers a useful cloud application can be GitHub which stores your code online so can continue coding from anywhere.

Every technology has pros and cons and the cloud is no exception. It’s great being able to access your files from anywhere but there’s a big disadvantage to the cloud that is often overlooked. You need to be constantly online to access your files in the cloud. It’s easy to dismiss this but what happens if your company’s Wi-Fi drops out? Or maybe you’re travelling on a train outside of a city? Even in 2017 internet connectivity is not guaranteed so it’s always have a backup away from the cloud.

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