Like many innovations, Apple Inc. can add the introduction of the iCloud to its many list of achievements. Launched eight years ago, the iCloud had an estimated 850 million users worldwide by the end of 2018 and shows no sign of slowing down.
So, what is the iCloud? Basically, it’s online storage. Information storage. Picture the hard drive on your computer. Now, picture thousands of servers owned by Apple, Google, and a host of other companies that act like an online hard drive. That’s the cloud. The “i” in front doesn’t have any special meaning nor does the word “cloud”. When you hear that your iTunes, or your photos, or email are saved to the cloud, it simply means that the information is being stored in one of those servers somewhere that you can access if you’re connected to the internet.
The iCloud is this massive storage system. So, why use it?
1. It’s incredibly simple. Once you have an iCloud account, you can save your data from your phone, computer, tablet, or just about any device you own to the cloud.
2. Every time you connect to the internet, the data can be backed up so that you can access the data anywhere. You don’t have to worry about your data getting lost or corrupted. If your hard drive crashes, your data is all intact and you can access it with another device.
3. The data is accessible from ALL your devices. If you save your data at your personal computer and later want to access it from your phone, it’s already there.
4. You can share the data you store with others if you choose. This is an added feature that allows data to be shared. Businesses can utilize this so that people inside and outside the company are able to access the data if they are authorized to do so.
5. An iCloud account is free. You receive 5 GB of data capacity when you open an iCloud account.
6. You can even find your phone if it’s lost.
The convenience of being able to store and access any of your data, without a computer, as long as you can access the internet, is creating countless new possibilities and benefits beyond the simple access of information.
There are also several drawbacks that you should be aware of if you start using the cloud:
1. The 5 GB of free storage is going to get used up much quicker than you imagine. Added storage can be purchased but at an annual cost of $20 to several $100 depending on how much is wanted.
2. Privacy and security are major issues. No one can access your data without the logon and password but if those are obtained, or given to the government for example, all your data can be accessed.
3. Access to the internet is required to use it.
The iCloud is only a tool. Like any tool, it can simplify a job if it is applied correctly. Users should be aware of the limits of the tool before they use it.
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