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What is the cloud?

The cloud, simply, refers to software and services that run on the Int
ernet instead of your computer. Apple iCloud, Dropbox, Netfix, Amao
n Cloud Drive, !lic"r, #oo$le Drive, %icrosoft &'ice ()*, +ahoo %ail
,, those are all cloud services.
There are many advanta$es to usin$ the cloud. -ince the videos, phot
os, documents, $ames and other software that lives in the cloud are av
ailable on any device with an Internet connection, you can access your
stu' from anywhere.
The cloud lets you watch half an episode of .rea"in$ .ad on your T/ a
t home and 0nish it on your smartphone while ridin$ the train. +ou ca
n play Candy Crush on your i1ad and continue to the next level on you
r 1C at wor" 2not that you3d ever play Candy Crush at wor"4. +ou can
buy a son$ on iTunes and have it automatically sent to all your i#imo
s.
In fact, you mi$ht be surprised how much of your stu' is in the cloud.
That3s because mobile apps and 1C software are becomin$ inseparabl
e from the cloud. !or example, many services, includin$ iCloud and #
oo$le5 1hotos, automatically bac" up photos you ta"e with your smart
phone. 2That can $et you in trouble if, say, you ta"e na"ed photos and
delete them from your phone ,, there3 still a copy in the cloud.4
6elated7 8ow celebrities3 nude photos $et lea"ed
There3s also a lot of personal information stored in the cloud that you
didn3t create. 8ealth care providers store your medical records in the
cloud, insurance companies put your claims there, and friends post ph
otos of you on !aceboo". That3s a $reat convenience when you want to
access the information ,, and a bit scary when you hand the "eys to yo
ur personal data over to third parties.
Is it safe9 &nly as much as you trust the company ,, and your own pas
swords. %ost cloud companies have excellent security records. .ut a r
ecent bu$ in Apple3s 2AA1:, Tech(;4 iCloud allowed hac"ers to $uess
celebrities3 passwords as many times as they wanted until they $ot it r
i$ht, lettin$ them access nude photos.
6elated7 <hen 3delete3 doesn3t really mean delete
+ou can run from the cloud ,, but it3s becomin$ increasin$ly di'icult to
hide. +our =ob mi$ht re>uire you to lo$ onto cloud,based software. %ic
rosoft3s next version of <indows is expected to run some features of it
s operatin$ system in the cloud.
-o where does it all live9 Instead of housin$ information on your hard
drive or your phone3s memory, your stu' is stored in massive data cen
ters around the world.
Amaon 2A%?N, Tech(;4, #oo$le 2#&&#:, Tech(;4, Apple, %icrosoft
2%-!T, Tech(;4 and !aceboo" 2!., Tech(;4 are amon$ the bi$$est dat
a center operators for consumer cloud services. There are (@; million
iCloud users. !aceboo" users have uploaded more than A;; billion ph
otos and add an avera$e (*; million a day. Amaon3s cloud services op
erate in BC; countries around the world.
That3s a lot of data.
These companies3 massive server farms are so vast and so power,hun$
ry that they are responsible for more than @D of the Enited -tates3 ele
ctricity usa$e, accordin$ to researchers at /illanova Eniversity. If the
$lobal cloud computin$ industry was a sin$le country, it would be the
0fth,lar$est in the world in terms of ener$y consumption, accordin$ to
Fd Tur"el of 8ewlett,1ac"ard3s 8yperscale .usiness Enit.
.ut it3s not =ust consumers who use the cloud. .usinesses are increasi
n$ly ditchin$ their internal servers and software in favor of cloud,base
d ones.
Cloud companies sold GB;; billion worth of their services and hardwa
re, accordin$ to IDC. .ut the cloud still has a lot of room to $row7 Co
mpanies are expected to spend G@.B trillion on computers, servers, sof
tware and services, accordin$ to #artner
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