Most people have no idea what a ‘Cloud’ or Cloud Storage is all about. Almost all iPhone, iPad, and Android users regularly uploading all their memories to the cloud are oblivious of how it works. The question you should be asking yourself is where does all the data go? Also, how come you’re able to transfer and access your data from anywhere instantly? The Cloud may seem like magic, but we assure you that there is solid science, physical wires and terabytes worth of storage involved. In this article, we attempt to unravel the mysteries behind cloud storage.
Your data is stored in data centers across the world and not in the sky
That’s right cloud computing has little to do with satellites and rain but everything to do with data centers the size of office buildings. Your data i.e. videos, photos, contacts, etc. are stored in numerous data centers across the world. A set of networked computers work together to provide users access to all sorts of services which include transferring, accessing and deleting their data. Plus, the data centers and the virtualization software (discussed below) are responsible for encrypting everything. So, don’t worry about the data center’s janitor pulling out a hard drive and violating your privacy.
Where does virtualization come in then?
So, you have all that storage space, and computing power but how does the computer know you? How does the data center give you access to only your pictures, videos, and contacts but not the next-door neighbor even though your information may reside in the same data center? Well, that’s where Virtual Machines. Virtual Machines or VMs as they are called are created by software. The software creates VMs by subdividing memory, storage and computing power into smaller units to which individuals like yourself are given access to.
Dropbox, iCloud and Google Drive are some of the most popular instances of cloud drives which allow users to store everything from music to photos. Since the data is centrally located, it is accessible from anywhere and at any time but only by an authorized user. The services can be setup to automatically sync with the cloud, so you no longer have to be involved in the process.
How does it all come together?
The entire process is pretty complicated, but in the essence of keeping things simple we are going to skip all the technical jargon and get right to the point:
- When you create an account with iCloud for instance, a piece of software creates a virtual machine with storage for you.
- The storage i.e. Cloud space resides on multiple servers and in multiple data centers which are probably owned or leased by Apple.
- Once your account is created, the data you sync with iCloud is automatically copied to all the locations that your virtual machine encompasses.
- Apple also makes backup copies of your data which are automatically accessed in the event of a hardware failure, natural disasters or software problems.
So, it goes without saying that if Apple gives you 20GB of storage, for instance, you’re in fact using a lot more than that! Plus, the fact that you can access your most precious moments from any place across the world via an internet connection makes Cloud Storage a lot more practical than physical storage.