With the recent problem with Gmail (news) outage, many computer users are wondering about the use of “cloud computing.” Simply put, cloud computing is the idea that you save all of your electronic documents, files, pictures, etc. to somewhere on the internet (this is called the “cloud”). You can access them from anywhere.  All you need is an internet connection and your username and password. Ever since computing was born, the dilemma of where to save has one main problem: what if that location goes down. In the early days, we saved to floppies. Then we moved to hard drives, the internet, CDs, flashdrives and other devices. The problem that Gmail experienced is not a new one. What’s new is the number of people affected.

Some say that the idea of “cloud computing” is dangerous. They point to the Gmail outage to call attention to this fear. However, this point seems irrelevant now since so much of our data is now electronic. The question isn’t where to save it; the question is how do we protect that data from loss or temporary disruption. Backup systems need to be in place for quick recovery if needed. There is cause to be careful but let’s be clear what the issues are.

In the case that we can’t get to our data because the “cloud” or other celestial location is unavailable, my advice to you is to relax. If you can’t get your email for an hour or two, have a glass of orange juice. Just sit and enjoy a conversation with a friend.