Home / Blog / What is "The Cloud"?

What is "The Cloud"?

August 13, 2021 at 07:14 PM

Revision history

  • October 15, 2021: Moved drawing to the image gallery

Data center

This is the cloud. It's servers in a company's data center. It's not something in the sky where your apps, data, and services can be floating around. "Cloud" services are just a company's servers in their buildings, and they are all controlled by that company.

"Cloud" backups are just as redundant as local backups

Many people who have backups of their data will also have backups or redundancy in "cloud" storage. Their reasoning for this is often because something bad can happen to their local backups. Their place can catch on fire, be destroyed by a natural disaster, or be robbed and take the backup with it. This can also happen to cloud storage. Most data centers may have plenty of security, redundancy, and backup power, but bad things can still happen to them. Someone could crash a car through a data center, it could be attacked by terrorists, or it could be damaged by a natural disaster. The company running the servers could also delete your data.

If a cloud service goes down, it would have a much greater impact than a single person losing their backups. This is because there are so many people using the services, all in one data center, and they would all go down. Earlier this year, something like this happened where so many websites and services were down thanks to one content delivery network going down.[1] I drew this image the same day.

"Cloud" storage allows companies to see your data

If data is not encrypted before it is stored in cloud storage, the company running the servers can see that data which is stored on those servers, and they can decide whether or not that data should be stored and delete it. If you have a cloud server or cloud computing, the company can see exactly what your machine is doing and everything in RAM since it's running on their computer which they have full control over.

You should always keep sensitive data away from cloud services and encrypt your data before storing it in cloud storage, making sure the cloud doesn't handle the decryption key. When files are encrypted, they cannot be accessed without the decryption key.

"The cloud" is controlled by big tech

Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and some others make up much of our infrastructure, and so much is centralized around these companies. This allows them to have control over the whole world's data and activities. No single entity should have this much power over the world, especially since big tech is notorious for stealing people's freedom and privacy for profit.

What do I use instead?

Since "the cloud" is just servers, you could have your own! There is a great project called Nextcloud that can run on your own server, and you can follow this guide on how to set it up. Once it's set up, it's a great and simple alternative to many cloud services away from big tech.

  1. How an Obscure Company Took Down Big Chunks of the Internet