We are all making use of the cloud — and some of us don’t even realize it. When you run a Google search, you are making use of Google’s systems from around the world. Of course, your computer has a part to play in it, but it is minor compared to the data Google’s computers process to display useful results to you.
By looking for a cloud server or VPS solution, you are simply seeking to outsource your computing needs to data companies. It’s like renting a virtual warehouse for your data or a virtual machine that processes the data. It saves you the costs and hassles of having to acquire and maintain your hardware.
Are you wondering what the cloud can do for you? For starters, here are five ways you can use it.
Backup your files
Where do you backup your files? How frequently do you backup your files? Is the process efficient?
The time when people backed up their files to disks and tapes has passed. The process was usually cumbersome and involved finding a good place to store the disks containing the backup to prevent it from damaging.
With the advent of clouding computing, however, backing up your files securely has never been easier. You can even program backups to run automatically, storing your information in a secure remote location that is unhindered by issues pertaining to capacity. The best part is that you don’t have to go to a storage room to access your backup, as done in the past. You can easily do that from anywhere using a connected computer.
Take cloud-based e-mail services like Gmail and Yahoo mail, for instance. We have all used them at one time in our lives and we have experienced the ease and benefits of not having to worry about capacity, accessibility and server uptime. You just grab a connected computer or mobile device and access your email.
Why, then, would a company want to host its own e-mail, incurring the cost of owning and maintaining an in-house mail server, when it can easily use a cloud-based e-mail service that only requires a computer or a mobile device, plus a working network to access?
Webhosting is another platform that benefits hugely from the cloud. When you host your company website on the cloud instead of on an in-house server, you avoid the strain managing a self-hosted website can put on your IT resources — and that strain would be very evident if your site garners a lot of traffic. You also help your people to concentrate on the non-technical aspects of managing a proper website. That is, filling it with great content.
With cloud-based websites, you don’t have to worry about the power consumption of your server that, in fact, needs to be running 24/7 if you want your website to be accessible at any time.
If you run an online store, then you need a reliable cloud server to avoid losing sales due to downtime. Of course, you could own your own server, but that would require a huge amount of money. When you now consider the cost of maintaining such a server—the hefty electric bills, the technical knowledge needed to manage it et cetera—you begin to understand why and how embracing the cloud can help your business.
Also, consider the fact that during festive periods, your online store is very likely to experience a spike in traffic. If your in-house server fails to handle that traffic even for a minute, your store will start to experience glitches, which can translate to customers not being able to order and thus a decline in sales.
With the cloud, however, you don’t have to worry about the technicalities of running a server. Nor do you have to worry about the overwhelming traffic. Because as the traffic to your online store grows, the cloud allows the store access to extra resources to handle the load, depending on your hosting plan.
Here is a good resource on how to choose the right server for your eCommerce website.
File storage and sharing
The cloud eliminates the need to share files via an e-mail—something that can become frustrating when it comes to large files. With the cloud, your company can easily have a virtual workspace, a centralized workhouse, where you share files instantly with your employees, partners, or clients. Any files stored in the cloud is easily accessible with not just the computer at your workplace, but any computer or mobile device.
Best of all, online storage, unlike the local storage system, needs no hardware on your part—well, except your regular computer and devices for accessibility. This implies that you won’t have to worry about setup and maintenance, and security is handled via your cloud provider’s data centers.
The key is using a great cloud hosting service with an uptime percentage as close to 100 percent as possible.
David Fournier has been a business analyst since 2010 and has also been involved in the launching of startups companies for more than three years. He has been writing for small- to mid-sized businesses, assisting them with their business needs.