Keep hearing people talk about "the cloud" but not sure what they mean? As a small business, it pays to know about what cloud computing is and how to use it to the benefit of your company. It can actually save you a lot of money, whilst also providing a flexible and unique way of carrying out business activities.

So what is the cloud?

The cloud is a term used to describe saving or working on files into a virtual space. It means you can work on a file from one computer, and later pick it up on your tablet, by simply logging into the account. You can work anywhere, at any time, meaning a far more productive way of working. Data can be accessed fast and easily over the Internet so you never need to worry about lugging around your PC when you travel.

How can a small business use the cloud?

A small business can benefit from the cloud by allowing staff to work on and access information and documents wherever they like. If you have staff that travel a lot, or work from home, they can simply log on and access the files they need without having to travel back to the office. In fact, as small businesses try to cut back and save money, they have downsized their offices (benefiting from a decrease in rent) and allowed staff to work from home. Staff are just as productive, and in fact many companies note a better working ethos in a company where cloud computing is used and a flexible approach to working is adopted.

FAQs about the cloud

What programs can I use for the cloud?
You can get many free programs, like Dropbox, or Google Drive, but specifically for enterprise businesses we recommend you check out - they're an ftp alternative that focus on making B2B file transfer easy, secure and accessible from any device or location.

How secure is the cloud?
Using properly managed programs like those listed above guarantee the most amount of safety. Of course, websites can get hacked but the chances of this are slim. If you're worried about cloud safety, here are some ways to keep your cloud secure. Tips might include creating passwords that aren't guess-able, and making sure data is backed-up somewhere else.

How big is the cloud?
No one can really put a number on how big the cloud is. But we are going to say, it is pretty big. There are some facts on the web though. For instance, it appears Dropbox uses about 10+ petabytes of data amongst over 25 million users. Hotmail may store around 100 petabytes, and SkyDrive might store around 10. But these are just guesses, the way the web is being used constantly changes and cloud sizes increase.

What's next for my business?
Using the cloud is simple. Get yourself an account, follow the instructions and start using it - you'll soon wonder how you lived without it!

Work from anywhere using your favorite device on a Windows Desktop from CloudDesktopOnline, and collaborate using SharePoint from CloudAppsPortal.