“Cloud” is, without a doubt, a vague and often confusing buzzword. It’s tossed around so regularly now that many people haven’t had the chance to learn what it actually means. In fact, the convenience of it all makes it easy to stay ignorant to the inner workings of the cloud. As long as you can access your emails from home, work, and your cell phone, do you really spend much time thinking about why you have that capability?

So what is the cloud? It’s easier to think of the cloud as a giant warehouse than a giant amorphous shape in the sky. The cloud is a physical place, after all. The cloud is a network of computers that store massive amounts of data, accessible at a moment’s notice. Giant corporations (like Google, Apple, and Amazon) own these computers, and most often, you must pay to use their services. Of course, there are “free” cloud services like DropBox or social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. However, these are not secure places, and you cannot be sure that your data isn’t going to be shared with the world. For the safest cloud storage services, contact your MSP.

The most convenient thing about the cloud is that you can access your stored files from anywhere, at any time (provided you have an internet connection). This is why you can start an episode of Orange is the New Black on your laptop and finish it seamlessly on your iPad. Netflix stored your progress in the cloud.

The cloud isn’t inherently good or bad. It can be unsafe if you don’t take the proper precautions (think Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel in Sex Tape), but the benefits of not having to use your own machines to store huge amounts of data are priceless.

How do you use the cloud?