Personal Small Business Enterprise

Making Sense of “The Cloud”

“The cloud” is probably the hottest thing in tech today. It’s also probably the most misunderstood.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be confusing. To keep things simple, just think of the cloud as the web. When you save something to the so-called “cloud”, you’re saving it on the web. That’s it.

To the average user, the advantages of the cloud are many, including:

  • Access your data from anywhere.
  • In the event of a hard-drive crash, you don’t lose everything.
  • No more emailing files like Word documents, Excel spreadsheets or PowerPoint presentations to yourself when you move between office and home.
  • No need to install software on different computers; just log in through your browser.
  • Most cloud solutions work just as well on tablets and smartphones as they do on laptops and desktops.

Of course, no technology is perfect for everyone, and you’ll want to keep the following in mind, as well:

  • Some cloud services will not work when you’re disconnected from the Internet. Some services may have an offline mode, but not all do. Check it out before you sign up.
  • Some services are free for a basic level of service, and offer paid premium offerings on top of it. Know your needs before reaching for your credit card, and feel free to try before you buy.
  • Security is a concern. Use effective password protection processes to avoid a breach. This includes unique passwords for each account, strong passwords composed of upper and lower-case letters, numbers and special characters, and at least a monthly change cycle. Do not use familiar, easy-to-guess terms – like pets or mother’s maiden names – either.
  • If your industry is under regulatory scrutiny – for example, health care or financial services that specifically control where data is stored – you need to critically evaluate what you can and cannot store in the cloud according to regulations. If you have any questions about this, feel free to comment here and we can discuss further.

Despite the hype and the perceived risks surrounding cloud-based solutions, it’s increasingly clear that this is where the industry is headed. We’ll look more closely at specific solutions in future blog entries. For now, feel free to start examining your own business needs to determine whether the cloud makes sense for you, and don’t feel pressured to jump in with both feet. It’s perfectly acceptable to go slow.

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