Copywriter, technical writer, translator (FR>EN, ES>EN, IT>EN), journalist

Understanding the "cloud"

I loved using Palm Pilot devices. All sorts of stuff that was on my computer synchronized to my handheld and I could look it up just by pulling the device out of a pocket and using it.

Today, there’s a third “device” between the handheld and the computer. We often call it the cloud. For many people, especially those used to old direct computer-handheld synchronization methods, the cloud can prove to be a source of confusion, especially when you need to troubleshoot synchronization problems.

Here’s an easier way to understand the cloud.

Your data (calendars, contacts, documents and so forth) resides on a server (a high-powered computer connected to a network) someplace on the Internet. Your devices (computer, tablet, phone) read your data from that server.

So far, it’s a lot like surfing to a web page, where your browser downloads a copy of the page to your computer for you to look at. But there’s one key difference. If you change or delete information on your device, the cloud server accepts your ¬†changes.

Thanks to Gary at for explaining this concept. He explains it in terms of Apple’s iCloud (and uses simple but helpful illustrations), but the basics are the same across other cloud-based services like Google Calendar, Google Drive, Microsoft Skydrive and so forth.