What is Cloud Storage? - Definition & Concept

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  • 0:00 What Is Cloud Storage?
  • 1:05 The Cloud
  • 1:55 Examples
  • 3:00 Benefits And Disadvantages
  • 4:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Szymon Machajewski

Szymon has a PhD in Education, an MS in Information Management and a BS in Computer Science. He has taught Computer Science at a number of Higher Education institutions.

Cloud Storage is networked storage, or disk space, available over a specific network - the Internet. In this lesson, learn what Cloud storage allows you to do as well as how it is installed.

What is Cloud Storage?

Cloud Storage is technology that allows you to save files in storage, and then access those files via the Cloud. Let's break down this definition. First, storage is the computer's ability to save files and other resources for later use. When you restart a computer, the files that are still available after the computer turns back on are saved and read from storage. Such storage commonly consists of a hard drive, a USB Flash drive, or another type of drive.

Because local data drives can be damaged or stolen, an idea was developed to use data drives over a network as storage. This allows the drives to be secured in a data center and backed up automatically. Initially, network storage required fast local networks (LAN), but today we have a ubiquitous network called the Internet.

The second part of Cloud Storage, the Cloud, represents the Internet. Any service, including storage, available over the Internet, is called Cloud service. If you use GMAIL it is email in the Cloud, if you use an Amazon MP3 player, that's music in the Cloud.

The Cloud

Where does the expression 'The Cloud' come from? When designing computer networks, engineers often connect computers to each other with lines. Such lines represent cables and connections. Switches and servers are also often connected to each other in this way.

When networks are connected to one another, engineers often use an abbreviation or representation of a network - a drawing of a cloud. A cloud represents a network we don't know much about, perhaps a network we don't own, or a network that provides connectivity in its own way. From here, the external network of the Internet has always been drawn as a cloud.

cloud network diagram

Examples of cloud network diagrams
cloud network diagram

Many services today are called Cloud services. The Internet as a network provides private parties and companies with many inexpensive alternatives to owning their own services.


It is important to realize that any computer service requires some storage. Many consider GMAIL or Yahoo Mail examples of Cloud Storage, because emails and attachments are stored with Google and Yahoo, and they are retrieved over the Internet. Instead of being so narrow in our interpretation, let's consider some services that provide storage itself.

Companies like dropbox.com allow you to store files. This is an example of filesystem level Cloud Storage. However, Amazon Web Services allow you to map a drive resource and then format it, and then use it as a block level backup. This is a core definition of networked storage and a very literal application of Cloud Storage expression.

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