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Picking Out The Right Cloud

The Cloud seems to be where it's at, but do you understand what that means?

Cloud computing can be a great resource if you are one of those people who never seems to have enough hard drive space to save all of the music, movies, software and photos on your computer.

Cloud computing lets people use and store files over the Internet, which keeps the hard drive clutter free. Your photos, documents, music and movies can be stored off the computer's hard drive so it can be accessed by any of your Internet-enabled devices or by logging in at any computer.

Think of how much of your stuff is already living in the cloud. Do you use Flickr or Picasa to share your photos? Do you use Gmail, Yahoo! Mail or Hotmail? Do you use tools such as GoogleDocs or Microsoft Web Apps? All of these use a cloud model.

Does this mean your data is less secure? That depends on how good you are at securing your own data and on how good the cloud service provider is at protecting its clients' data. Each relationship you make by signing up for a service involves you giving some trust in each company’s ability to treat your privacy and your digital assets with the utmost of care. This is just like any business relationship. Do you trust your pharmacist, your bank, your doctor or your hairdresser to protect your privacy? Unfortunately, because of the vast amount of data these cloud providers hold they are more enticing targets for the “black hats” out there.

We should choose cloud computing companies that have good reputations. These companies should have privacy standards you can live with, and responsive customer support. If they don't live up to your standards, find another provider. Look for those that offer a secure connection option (more on that in a future column) and use good passwords (again, more on that soon).

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