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What is 'The Cloud'

Find out everything you need to know about Cloud storage, the advantages of storing files online, and which service will be best for you with our helpful guide.

‘The Cloud’ is simply another word for the internet. So when something says, “saved in the cloud”, you’ve just stored it online. There are lots of options for using the cloud depending on which device or operating system you’re using, but essentially it’s just a safe and secure way to store your files online.

Advantages of 
Cloud Computing

There are a variety of reasons to use the cloud instead of a hard drive to store your files, which can make your life a lot easier.

If something happens to your computer, then you can still easily access your files anywhere with the cloud. When you move onto another device, or buy a new one, then you don’t have to waste time transferring all your files, as they’re already in one place.

Using the cloud also means you’re freeing up space on your hard drive – so you have more room to save that movie for a long trip, or finish an important piece of work whenever and wherever you want. It’s also perfect to use in tandem with a Solid State Drive - you get the benefits of a sleek and lightweight laptop, but the cloud gives you ample storage space for your files too.

For more information on hard drives, read our article on What is a Hard Drive?

Finally, it’s an extremely safe way to keep your data, as everything is stored securely and it’s all password-protected, so only you will be able to access your stuff.

Popular Cloud Storage Services

Microsoft OneDrive

OneDrive comes free with Windows 10, letting you use the cloud from any modern Windows device. You get 5GB (85 hours of music or 640 high quality photos) of storage for free and then have the option to upgrade and buy more space after that.

Shop Windows 10

You can also get a bigger allowance with Microsoft OneDrive when you subscribe to Office 365. This allows you to download and use applications (such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more) on multiple devices, and you get a huge 1TB of OneDrive storage – equivalent to a full hard drive.

Shop Office
Microsoft OneDrive

iCloud

If you use an Apple device, such as an iMac, you’ll have access to Apple’s cloud service iCloud. As well as saving all your photos, videos and documents online, it’s also great for syncing your contact information, calendar and email across your devices.

And if you want to keep tabs on the kids but also easily share photos, there’s a family plan that allows up to six family members to share music, books and apps across everyone’s devices.

Dropbox

Dropbox is an independent cloud service that works across Microsoft, Apple and mobile devices. You just download the app, or use Dropbox in a web browser. A Dropbox Basic account gives you 2GB for free, but if you want more then there are monthly and yearly subscription plans. One cool feature that sets Dropbox apart, is that you can send family all your recent holiday snaps with something as simple as a link, and they don’t even need a Dropbox account to access the file.

Dropbox

Google Drive

With a Google email account, you can use Google’s own cloud service which gives you up to 15GB for free. You can access these files from any smartphone, tablet or computer wherever you are in the world, and with the Google Docs apps that are included, you can easily share spreadsheets and Microsoft Word documents with friends or colleagues – and even work on them live at the same time.

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