Beginning in the Spring of 2011, Apple began letting word out about its new iCloud service which went live for the average user in October. Most useful for those who are Apple loyal, the iCloud allows all of a user’s data (music, movies, photos, downloads, etc.) to be stored in a centralized location so that every item is accessible from every Apple product that a user owns. This means that customers of iCloud services no longer need to email themselves files, search for flash drives and disks or worry about a computer or other device that is lost, stolen or destroyed. All of the information that a customer stores, can be found in their cloud.
A cloud, or in this case iCloud, is a virtual hard drive for its users. Instead of saving files to one computer and using flash drives, disks or email to move the information to be accessible on another device, the info is stored virtually, at an internet-accessible location.
Using a cloud to store all of one’s information is most useful to those who are always connected to the internet. Someone who does not have wireless or mobile access for their computer and/or tablet will be unable to retrieve files unless they are somewhere that they can access the internet. Those who are always connected will sincerely enjoy the ability to access every file they need while they are on the go.
Using a cloud to store data means customers must, in part, change their way of thinking about the data they use and the ways it is stored and transported from one place to another. Because this can be difficult for some consumers, Apple has gone so far as to offer free upgrades to the most recent operating software, Snow Leopard.
One worry that some users have concerning the iCloud and its connection to the iPhone is the fact that having items transferred from the iCloud to the iPhone and back, much of which is done automatically, can incur significant data charges to the customer if they do not have a sufficient data plan for their iPhone. Checking with their data provider to make sure that there is enough data on their plan will take away that worry.
The typical Apple iCloud user will be happy with the five gigabytes of space allowed on the iCloud for free, especially since purchased music, movies, apps, books, TV shows, and Photo Stream do not count against that five gigabytes. This leaves only consumer-saved information that counts towards this limit. Considering the miniscule amounts of memory that these items, documents, email, app data and non-Photo Stream photos use, those five gigabytes will be likely to last a customer quite a while. However, for those customers who want to have other information stored on their iCloud (Non-iTunes purchased music, movies, etc.) there are larger plans available for a monthly fee.