Cloud computing explained for students

Cloud computing can help you write essays, stay organised and keep your work safe. Read our guide here.

You may have heard of the cloud, you may not have. But if you're going to university this September then it's worth taking a look - because it can offer serious advantages for your studies.

What is the cloud?

Cloud Computing For Students 

But first, what is the cloud? The cloud is a fancy term for the internet - or specifically, parts of the internet where we store data and work on applications or programs.

You are using cloud computing if you're storing files and working on programs from the web rather than on your laptop's hard drive. 

Use Instagram to post your photos online? You're sending them to the cloud. Stream music from Spotify? You're streaming from the cloud. Use Google services such as Gmail and calendar - guess what? You're in the cloud.

Want to back up your data? At Knowhow Cloud we have options for everyone from the most demanding data hoarder to the more modest music collections. 

How the cloud can benefit your studies - working on programs online 

There are a number of cloud services that you can use for doing actual work - writing essays, working on design projects and more. Here we detail a few of the main ones.


One for writing essays and preparing presentations - Office 365 University

Word Web App Co -Author _Web

Write essays and plan presentations whether on your own laptop in student halls, your mum and dad's PC or a friend's iPad.

With Microsoft Office 365 University you have Word, PowerPoint and Excel on 2 machines, as well as the ability to stream it over the web to any other laptop or PC.

Just log-in to the Office 365 site on the web to stream online versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint to your machine. This means you can work pretty much anywhere you have a web connection - not just on the 2 machines installed with the full editions of Office 365.

Save work to the cloud with Microsoft's OneDrive service, and pick up exactly where you left off. Multiple people can work on the same document at the same time from different locations, and make edits you can all see.

Office 365 is also compatible with Windows tablets, while there's a specific version for the iPad - Office for iPad.

The benefits are:

  • Access your work from pretty much any device with Word, Excel and PowerPoint web apps 
  • Work on documents with other people online
  • Pick up your work exactly where you left off
  • Have the software installed on both your laptop and tablet

Another option - Google Drive 

Another option for cloud-based essay-writing is Google Drive. This gives you web-based office apps for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations. Your first few GB of storage is free, and sharing work with others is simple. 

Unlike Office 365, Google's apps live completely in the cloud in your web browser - they are not software you download onto a machine. With Office 365, however, you download the software onto 2 machines and then have access to web app vesions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint from any web browser and any laptop or PC.


One for designers and creatives - Adobe Creative Cloud for students

If you're studying a creative subject such as graphic design, illustration, fashion design, web design or photography then you'll be familiar with Adobe software.

With Adobe Creative Cloud you can download the software suite from the web and pay for access on subscription, rather than paying a higher price to actually buy the software.  

The benefits are:

  • A year's access to the applications you need are far cheaper than buying the CS6 Master Collection
  • The latest versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver and Premiere at no extra costs - Creative Cloud updates itself
  • The ability to share work online with students, lecturers and recruiters and create an online portfolio to showcase your work  
  • The oppurtunity to adapt to other mediums - if you're a designer who works in Photoshop, try out film-editing in Premiere


How the cloud can benefit your studies - storing things online and staying organised

The other main function of the cloud is online storage - here we round-up a few of the main options for storing documents, images and videos online.


Piles Of Papers

Knowhow Cloud

During your studies you're going to accumulate a lot of data. From countless essays and reports to all the albums and bands your new friends awaken you too. With Knowhow Cloud you can back all of this up to the web and access whenever you need it, from any device.


  • An affordable option - 4TB storage for £50 compared to £300 + at Google Drive
  • App to access your data from smartphones and tablets 
  • 24/7 support helpline to answer any queries 



Work in Microsoft Office all the time? OneDrive is a great option for accessing your documents from your laptop, tablet or phone.

It's baked into Office applications such as Word and Excel, so saving to and opening from the cloud while writing an essay or putting together a presentation is simple.

You can also access OneDrive when writing emails or updating your calendar in Outlook. 

Have an Office 365 subscription? You can work on a report at the same time as your co-students without being in the same room.


  • Save Microsoft Office documents to OneDrive and open again from any device 
  • Designed to work with Microsoft Office documents such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook 
  • Can work on documents at same time as other people and see their changes 
  • 7GB free when signing up 
  • Backs up your photos automatically

Apple iCloud

The go-to cloud service for Apple devotees, with iCloud you'll get 5GB of free online storage to access your essays and reports and music and films from wherever.

But what's really clever about iCloud is its syncing. If you own more than 1 Apple device then iCloud will sync your calendar, contacts and data across them all. So, make a diary entry in your iPad calendar for Monday morning, and it will also show up on your iPhone or MacBook. 

With PhotoStream the pictures you take on your iPhone will be automatically sent to your other Apple devices as you take them. 


  • 5GB free storage 
  • Syncs your calendar, contacts and email across all Apple devices 
  • Take photos on your iPhone and they're automatically sent to your iPad or Mac 


Google Drive

Part of the same Google cloud-services we talked about earlier. Google Drive will give you 15GB of storage, free. You can get at your files by visiting the Google Drive site, or by downloading the desktop app for your PC, laptop or Mac.

From Google Drive you can easily access Google Calendar to play in your lectures and revision slots - and this can be be picked up from anywhere you find an internet connection. 


  • Easy to use - all you need is a Google account 
  • Works seamlessly with other Google apps such as Calendar and Gmail 
  • 15GB of free storage

Are you already using any of these cloud services? Let us know in the comments below...