How 'the Cloud' Works and Why So Many People Are Perplexed by It

PHOTO: An image to depict the Cloud companies, including Google and Facebook, and their server farms.
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You’re probably using "the cloud" already and just don’t know it.

While most people have heard of the mysterious "cloud," only 29 percent said they use it, according to a report from nScreenMedia.

However, the report found that 90 percent of broadband users in the U.S. are aware of cloud services.

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The disparity between the number of people who use cloud storage and the number of people who say they have heard of it suggests that more people are likely using it without fully realizing it.

It doesn't end there -- even Hollywood screenwriters seem to misunderstand “the cloud.”

The new movie “Sex Tape,” starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel follows the tech trials of a couple who accidentally upload their personal video to the cloud -- along with old iPads they gave to friends and family that are still synced to the devices.

PHOTO: Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segel) try to put the spark back in their relationship in Columbia Pictures comedy Sex Tape.
Claire Folger/Sony Pictures Entertainment
PHOTO: Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segel) try to put the spark back in their relationship in Columbia Pictures' comedy "Sex Tape."

The scenario wouldn't happen in real life, however, because videos are only backed up to the cloud. You can’t connect to another iPad to access media -- meaning the couple’s dirty video was safe all along.

If you're still confused -- read on -- we have you covered.

What Is the Cloud?

Remember when your data used to be stored on floppy discs, CDs and memory sticks? We no longer need those physical storage devices.

The cloud refers to an application that is hosted on or run on Internet servers. All the companies that have these services -- Google, Facebook and Apple, to name a few -- have servers or server farms. That's where the media is actually stored.

If you're looking at a photo on Facebook or watching a movie on Netflix, congratulations, you just experienced the cloud.

Why Is the Cloud So Great?

It's convenient! You can pull up important documents on demand and check email from any computer.

Ever experience the pain of having your hard drive crash and losing everything?

The cloud safeguards your documents, photos and songs, allowing you to have a backup of your files instantaneously by simply logging on to another computer.

What Are Some Examples of Cloud Storage Services?

Apple's iCloud, Google's Drive and Dropbox are some of the most commonly used cloud storage services.

Surely There's a Downside?

It's perfectly safe and acceptable to have your life stored in the cloud in 2014, but as always, make sure you use a strong password to safeguard what's in your cloud.

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