What is The Cloud?

WHAT IS THE CLOUD? (and where does all of our ‘Digital stuff’ go?)

The first thing to understand about ‘The Cloud’ is that it is not a physical place or thing. Think of The Cloud as a virtual locker where you can remotely and securely store your data. The term ‘Cloud’ has been coined because digital files seem to go up into the clouds. However, they are stored on planet earth – they are copied from your computer, and transferred via the internet to a series of servers.

Most people use The Cloud for storing documents, pictures and videos. The great benefit of The Cloud is that you can access your digital items from any personal computing device, anywhere in the world with an internet connection at any time!


When computers first came to market, computer hard drives were used for storage along with floppy disks, and then came CDs and USB sticks to store our data. Now with the latest technology, we use The Cloud. 

We no longer need tons of storage on our devices and backup hard drives, as all our pictures, videos and files can be stored on The Cloud and accessed from anywhere. 

Grandaids Handy Hint: If you have memorable photos or videos (perhaps your old wedding video or an old newspaper article) that you would like to keep safe, you can put them in The Cloud and click to see that photo or video wherever and whenever you want. You can also send a link, for direct access to those files, to your family – anywhere in the world.


If you were to upload a photo (for example) to a cloud-based service like Google Drive or iCloud,  a copy of the photo is taken and uploaded, via the internet to an offsite server. Most Cloud storage companies will have hundreds of these servers, known as “server farms”, spanning multiple locations. (If one farm gets hit by a meteor, you will retain your data/photo as it is backed up in another location!)

Individuals and businesses access these servers online, rather than having a physical server on location. When using The Cloud as storage, your files (photos or videos) appear to be running on your PC, phone, iPad or Mac when in fact, they are leaving your physical computer and transferring over the internet to an array of computer servers designed to hold large volumes of data.

 In many ways, it’s safer than having a USB stick lying around or sending a CD in the post, where there’s a chance it could get lost! Instead, your files get copied over the Internet and onto a data server.


Chances are, you are already using The Cloud, and you didn’t even notice. Have you ever purchased a new phone and had all your contacts restored automatically? That’s thanks to Cloud storage!

Most Cloud storage companies will give you an allocation of data storage for free (this is the case when you purchase an apple phone, the phone comes with a certain amount of iCloud storage). Then when you reach that limit and require more storage, you need to pay iCloud to upgrade and receive more data space. 

Google Drive gives you 15 GB of storage for free, but this can be increased up to 30TB per month with a fee. ( I can’t imagine many of you will need this large amount of storage. For most people reading this article 15GB of storage would be sufficient) Other services like Dropbox, iCloud and Microsoft OneDrive offer similar monthly fees for higher storage capabilities. 


If you need help storing your files, videos or photos safely, contact Grandaids – we understand that this technology can be confusing. Our Grandaids Mentors will assist and educate you to feel confident and secure with where your files are stored.

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