First of all, what is a Cloud Server, exactly?
We hear the term in many different contexts, but how many of us know exactly what a server is? To answer the question, a server is simply a computer that serves up content to other computers on demand. Servers can look like an ordinary CPU, or they can be huge machines with immense banks of memory, super-fast hard drives, and good internet connections. Cloud servers are not any different from other servers, they just have an extra good internet connection.
Server on the Internet
When you connect to the internet and type in a URL, you are ordering content from a server. The server recognizes the URL and delivers the content you have asked for. There are servers that are dedicated to file serving for large companies, servers that deliver content to printers, and servers that are dedicated to storing data that are not connected to the internet for security reasons. Any computer can be a server, at least in a limited capacity, but computers that are designed to be servers will be optimized for the job they do. A server may have an enormous amount of memory, but no sound card, for instance, since a sound card is not necessary for the job that server does. No matter which email brand you use, somewhere there is a server that is optimized to process that email.
Cloud servers have a different kind of RAM than the hard drive on a CPU or in a laptop. The RAM used in an internet server includes a feature called ECC or Error Correcting Code. This code continuously checks to make sure the server is processing data without errors, and if it detects an error in the flow of data, it can correct it immediately. This feature is necessary because there are a lot of servers that cannot ever be shut down, such as emergency services servers, government servers, military servers, and even social media and email servers. When you shut down and restart a CPU, any errors in running programs or surfing the web are usually corrected through that maneuver, but since you can’t shut a server down, it needs to correct faulty operations as it goes.
Cloud servers are no different from regular servers, they just aren’t all kept in the same place. If you use only one server in a company based in, say, California, and there is an earthquake, your server can be damaged beyond redemption. This would mean the loss of any data you had failed to create backups for. If you store your data “in the cloud” it just means that whatever company you choose to do business with has ownership of – or leases space on – severs located in different areas of the world, which makes it very unlikely that all of those servers could be affected by a single natural disaster or any other physical damage, so even if one server is destroyed, your data can be retrieved from any or all of the others.
Data stored on cloud servers may not be vulnerable to physical sabotage or natural disasters, but it does have its own unique areas of vulnerability – mainly the internet. That wonderful world-wide web of information that allows all of us to have mind-boggling amounts of information (and cat videos) at our fingertips also gives people who would love to steal from us a way to access our most valuable and private information. There are multiple examples of supposedly secure databases being hacked and the information the hackers obtained sold to the highest bidder, causing untold damage to individuals around the world. It seems as though each time a way is invented to prevent unauthorized access to a company’s records, the hackers find a way to defeat that method. The race to keep ahead of them is fast paced and never-ending, and there really are very few ways to protect yourself. Changing passwords often, using strong passwords, and never using the same password twice are some of the best ways to prevent a data breach, but if the information is accessed through other channels, even strong passwords and two-step identification methods won’t save you.
Having servers from all over the world linked together through software applications and acting as one allows cloud-based computing to reach a level of performance and storage capacity that could barely be imagined thirty years ago. The world is storing vast amounts of information on cloud-based servers, and finding new ways to utilize the speed and power of cloud-based computing every day. The advances that will be made in the future seem unlimited.