Monday, January 7, 2019

Cloud Computing for Beginners

What is "Cloud computing" for those who are unfamiliar with the term? Cloud computing is a technique for outsourcing workflow and/or storage onto a remote device or web server.  You may have heard of Apple iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive, SugarSync, etc.  Those basic cloud services are used for online storage of files, pictures and data which can be shared on multiple devices, but do not have too many other functions.  There is also Amazon Web Service, which has multiple cloud functions.  More advanced workflow cloud services usually cost a subscription fee, such as Office 365 and Adobe Document Cloud.  These allow you to do all of your Adobe Acrobat PDF and Microsoft Office work online - you will never need to download or upgrade your software again! They do it all for you now.  Pretty cool, huh? Well, there are both advantages and disadvantages to this.  The most expensive cloud computing services are for larger businesses and these will have a setup in some form of Remote Desktop into a much larger Windows Server-based computer.  The sky is the limit and there is a huge industry out there for this.  For now, though, let's review some of the more basic cloud services you can find almost anywhere on the internet.  These are both free and subscription-based depending on your needs:

1.  Microsoft OneDrive - this is a great, recommended online storage drive with an adjustable camera function.  It is easy to use and links with your Outlook account.

2.  Apple iCloud - It is fairly simple to use and similar to the OneDrive for the storage aspect, but the camera doesn't adjust as well as OneDrive.  Will link to all of your Apple Devices with ease and helps you weave a safety net for your devices.  iCloud is also used for linking all of your devices and protecting them.  You will receive notifications when you change your password or make changes, or even access from an alternative location.

3.  Amazon Web Service - Has multiple uses, such as online storage and sharing, as well as downloading games, music, videos, movies and other media.

4.  Office 365 - Great for business, education, personal and multiple uses.  You will be able to use Office online on varying subscription levels and you have the option of downloading files and software, or saving them online.  The ultimate tool for an online world where you never need to upgrade your office software again!

5.  Adobe DC (Document Cloud) - similar to Office 365, but is now the most current version of Adobe Acrobat that is used online via a subscription basis with varying levels. You can download the files/software, make PDFs in your own fashion, or do everything once again for PDF creation media.  This is a unique program which automatically updates online.  This makes using Acrobat finally a mainstream tool instead of one single expensive software purchase.

Can also be used on Mobile Devices and prevents purchasing hugely expensive software packages that get installed on a personal computer.  Subscription services allow you to cancel whenever you want if you get bored of the software.  Know your limits with free services.

Cloud computing services such as those mentioned still require a decent computer and web browser, since using the online services uses a lot of memory and downloads a lot of data.  In some ways, this can be harder if you are using an older computer since the browsers will move much slower, where having an application already installed and unpackaged on an older computer might just function more smoothly and doesn't require any Data usage.  Also, you will have to get used to a whole new platform with these services.

Be careful of Malware!
Many hackers and spammers will exploit these Cloud services by sending you fake spam emails that claim to be Microsoft or Apple, and asking you to log in.  This is a PHISHING attempt or an attempt to download malware onto your computer.  USE CAUTION and NEVER OPEN EMAILS that look suspicious!!

Overall, cloud computing is a decent tool to use, but it isn't a new concept - it's just the way software is used nowadays so you don't need to buy extra hardware for yourself, and to share certain programs among your co-workers.  Recommended trying one of these cloud services.  The sky is the limit! ;)

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