What cloud computing means to you

Imagine storing all your data on something so far away that you will never see what’s holding it, but having it so close that you can access it at any time. Get used to the idea – it’s cloud computing and it’s about to change your life.

Pretty… but you wouldn’t store data in this particular cloud

When computers first came along, everything was saved onto floppy discs which were stacked up and arranged in boxes and plastic cases on your shelves. These days, massive hard drives, memory sticks and DVDs are the norm. But now a new storage solution is starting to break through and it means you never have to save a single file on your own system – instead you save to a central storage facility somewhere in the depths of cyberspace.

Cloud computing provides storage space, programs and service through your internet connection. It gives you a virtually limitless supply of hard disk capacity, processing power and a range of programs available on demand.

The benefits to businesses have been talked up, but not much has been made of how it could change how we use tech at home. Turns out it could be very useful indeed…

If you’ve ever lost a document because your computer crashed or accidentally deleted a file in a moment of stupidity, then the cloud is for you. Files can be automatically saved every few seconds, so you’ll never lose too much even if your computer was to spontaneously combust. You can also access versions of files from the past, allowing you to rescue corrupted documents.

As long as you take the same precautions you would to protect your email or online banking details, then the cloud could even be a safer option for your files than local storage. If an opportunistic thief swiped your laptop, all your vital data would be in their hands. With the cloud, they would only get the laptop itself and not your priceless data.

Music fans will doubtlessly have their top tunes saved to their desktop PC, MP3 player and their smartphone. I love my gadgets equally, so I share around the music, but it’s a pain moving data from one to another. If I download a new album, suddenly it needs shifting to two other devices.

The cloud could bring an end to boring data duplication like this. If you buy a song and store it on the cloud, then you could access it from all your web-connected devices instantly without having to transfer the file from device to device. Now that’d have me singing a happy tune…

Gaming could also be shaken up by the cloud. Tired of your graphics card slowing your progress when you’re trying to raise a family on The Sims 3? The cloud can be as fast as your internet connection allows, delivering high-end performance wirelessly.

Forget taking boxes of games round to your friends, you can just log in to your space on the cloud using your username and all your games would be there, along with your saved progress.

While there are online services which let you save a number of gigabytes of data to a space on the web, a fully-integrated cloud computing experience hasn’t quite arrived yet.

There are also a couple of products on the market that offer similar advantages. For example, personal cloud storage device Pogoplug lets you connect with the data on your external hard drive at home from anywhere by using the web.

Ultimately the success of the cloud depends on our internet connections. If plans to deliver superfast speeds around the country are put in place, then many of us could stream services to many gadgets, instead of installing them and using them from one device.

If it takes the hassle out of moving data around and ensures we’ll never lose that oh-so-important document then I’m all for it.

Do you think cloud computing will make a difference to how you use technology at home, or will it never quite take off? Comment below…