You Too Can Cloud Compute – With Google!

You’ve heard it before.  From podcasts and blogs to tweets and sharply dressed men on TV, if you’re into technology, you’ve heard the term cloud computing.  In case you haven’t, or you have no clue what it means, let me explain.

Basically, cloud computing is the idea that instead of using external, flash, or hard drives, everything you do on the computer will be saved online (in a “cloud”), where it can be accessed from anywhere.  So, if you type up a paper at home, you can access it from work or school without having to save it to a flash drive and check your pockets every 5 minutes to make sure you have it.

One of the most obvious problems with cloud computing is the fact that it’s a lot quicker to save something to a physical hard drive than to wait for it to upload to a web server, depending on your internet speed.  Google, as always, is not only taking the initial steps in making cloud computing a reality, but also finding solutions to this problem.  Currently, Google offers many web services for the collection of personal online items – Gmail, Picasa, Reader, Docs, and Calendar.  All of these free services allow the user to store their materials online.

As I said though, Google is making great strides in online document storage.  Instead of working on a report in a text editor and uploading the document to your web space, you can just type it up within Google Docs (and it saves as you type, so you don’t even have to worry about a power surge, dead battery, or crash).  Don’t worry about using a desktop email client to receive your messages from different email accounts, Gmail gives you 5 gigs of space and allows sending and receiving from multiple addresses.

Google has finally mentioned the new service (GDrive?) that has been rumored for years.  Rumor has it that this online file storage will free (if not expand) the 6 gigs of space (currently restricted to Gmail and Picasa) so that users can store any files.  If so, this will be a big hit to online backup or storage companies – but a big step for cloud computing.

So far, we can save email, documents, photos, schedules and news clips online.  We can use online services to do many of the things that formerly required a desktop program.  And now, with the release of Chrome, web browsers are beginning to behave like operating systems.

So what’s next?  What’s the future look like for operating systems and computer desktops?

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