Loosely defined, the cloud is used to describe a remote server location where files may be stored, or applications may run, and whereby local computers– desktop, notebook, smartphones, tablets, or servers– may connect to perform specific non-local computing functions. Whew. What else?
Send In The Clouds
Mac, iPhone, and iPad users have Apple’s version of the cloud in the iCloud service; a mostly seamless and mostly free way to store photos, sync files, or upload and download files.
The cloud is also represented by Dropbox, which, like Box, GoogleDrive, Microsoft’s OneDrive and other services, store files on your Mac and syncs them between devices using an online storage facility.
That’s a mouthful, so why has ‘the cloud‘ become such a buzzword?
Is storing critical files in the cloud safe and secure? Is so-called cloud computing the future, and our devices merely clients which connect to cloud services?
So many questions, so little time.
What I note of interest about cloud computing is that it’s becoming synonymous with the internet. After all, ‘the cloud‘ is merely a server or storage facility somewhere, out there, but connected to the internet, either publicly or privately.
Security Is Problematic
While I have nothing that I store in iCloud or Dropbox that is worthy of search by the NSA (they probably know that already) or any other hacker, how safe can ‘the cloud‘ be if major banks and government facilities are hacked into on an ongoing basis?
That’s why I don’t keep much information that’s really important on any cloud service. Google, of course, wants us to store everything online and use their cloud-based apps, but that’s because Google makes money by sorting through our digital laundry, gathering personal information about us, so they can sell it to advertisers or use it to advertise to us in ways we cannot easily resist.
There’s little question that so-called ‘cloud computing‘ is here to stay but is anyone other than server and storage device makers actually making money by providing the cloud services that most of us may use?
Can you exist in a digital world, and roam the misinformation superhighway, with complete anonymity and avoid contact with the cloud? It’s not easy. I like Apple’s implementation of the cloud in iCloud. It syncs Contacts, Calendar, bookmarks, Reminders, Notes, Keychain, and a thousand photos between devices. That’s handy and useful.
A number of apps for OS X and iOS use cloud services like Dropbox to store files and keep them in sync between devices; desktop, notebook, smartphone, and tablet. That’s all well and good, but why should I trust such services to keep critical data private and secure when the best technology minds in the country cannot do that very thing even now (Wikileaks, Edward Snowden, stolen U.S. drones, Adobe, and Target come to mind immediately).
That reticence, that insecurity about security, probably is repeated by millions of others just like me, and that more than likely inhibits the growth of the cloud and its ability to integrate into my daily life beyond iCloud and Dropbox. The cloud as we know it is neither no more nor no less secure than locally encrypted storage, but that lack of trust means I’m uncomfortable using the cloud the way cloud services want me to use it.