The Curious Case of the Cloud Computer

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If you were to judge me by the contents of my computer’s hard-drive you would not suspect that I use my computer to listen to music multiple hours a day, for my music library is blank. You would also be astonished to find that I love to write and saved all the papers I have submitted in college, for the “My Documents” folder contains zero items.

My hard drive is virtually empty, all I need is access to the Internet and the cloud applications that it contains.

I stumbled upon cloud computing accidentally. In April, I erased the entire contents of my laptop’s hard drive. Instantly my laptop was restored to the fast speed I had enjoyed when it was brand new, four years earlier. I did not want to re-install all the programs and reupload all the files that caused my computer to become tortoise-like. I had one option: cloud applications. Previously I would have iTunes, Microsoft Word and Safari running on my computer simultaneously, and now I just needed the Internet.

By using cloud applications, one gains device and location independence. For example, let’s use Microsoft Word and Google Docs. To use Word you need to buy and install the software, and then stay current on all the updates that will be released. The program, as software for purchase, is only available for use on a personal computer. When the software package is outdated, you must buy the new version and reinstall.

With Google Docs, instead of accessing a software application for word processing, you simply access the cloud application-a website that is fundamentally the same, regardless of where the user views it. There is no need to carry around USB drives with your assignments for school. Simply log into your Google account and access all your documents.

Computers generally come with a pre-installed music playing application: iTunes on Macs and Windows Media Player on PCs. These require high processing power and when running multiple applications, they can slow everything down. There are several cloud applications that can be used instead of the computer hosted applications. Pandora is the go-to site for most CBU students, but try out Grooveshark.com, which provides the user capability to form song-specific playlists (rather than the ambiguous selection from Pandora). The user’s favorites and playlists can be saved and accessed from any computer.

For a busy CBU student, cloud applications help you stay organized, are cost effective and virtually mobile. Never again will you need to deal with an application’s updates, the newest version is automatically pushed to you.