When someone says the word “cloud,” we generally think of those fluffy white things in the sky that occasionally dump rain on us. Today, they have taken on a completely different meaning. In fact, it has become the “next big thing” in computing. So what is it?

To put it simply, cloud computing is a way to store data online. That data is distributed among multiple servers and hard drives to help keep your data secure. The other great point of the cloud is that, in most cases, it is accessible from anywhere you can get an Internet connection, as well as from many popular mobile devices (iPhone®, Android®, Tablet, iPad®).

According to NPD Research, as cited by CRN, 22% of US consumers are familiar with cloud computing. Of those respondents, 76% have used some form of cloud service within the past year. (Examples: tax prep software, online gaming, and the most popular form of cloud computing, email.)

So why would anyone want to use cloud? For most people, it’s a simple, and effective way to back up their pictures, music, personal data etc. It’s also a secure, and fairly inexpensive solution as opposed to going out and buying an additional hard drive (internal or external). It is also nice to be able to have access to your data virtually anywhere. Having that kind of control of your data is empowering and certainly beats having to carry around an extra drive. Remember, your hardware can fail you, but the cloud servers won’t.

In the end, the cloud is something to embrace, not fear. Most of us already have access and don’t even know it. For some additional information about the cloud and how you can benefit from it, check out http://inthepersonalcloud.com. Additionally, for a simple solution try Norton Online Backup. It’s an effective consumer solution that can get you securely backing up your important files.