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Absolute Beginner's Guide to OS X Mountain Lion: Using iCloud

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This chapter answers lots of questions about the iCloud: What is it? What does it do? Why do I want it? How can I get it? How does it work? How can I see what’s on the iCloud? How can I get more of it?
This chapter is from the book

Using iCloud can make your life so much easier in so many ways! If you have more than one Apple qualifying device, you can keep them synchronized like never before. (Here “qualifying device” means an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch that runs on iOS 5 or a Mac that runs on Lion or Mountain Lion.) Even if you have only one Apple device, the iCloud is a perfect way to access your data from anyone’s computer or back up and restore your data.

What Is the iCloud?

iCloud is Apple’s cloud computing technology. The term cloud computing conjures up images of giant hard drives in the sky, but the term originally comes from illustrations that depict the Internet as a cloud in computer network diagrams. So, in essence, cloud computing is a reference to using the Internet as a means of delivering computing and storage capacity as a service to a large number of users.

To use cloud computing, you must entrust your data to the service that provides the computer network (in this case, Apple), and the service provider has to store that data somewhere. Because every Apple iCloud account includes a free webmail address (that doesn’t bombard you with advertising) and 5 gigabytes (GB) of free storage space, Apple needs an almost unfathomable amount of data storage space for hundreds of millions of potential users. To support the iCloud, Apple has invested at least $1 billion in one of the world’s largest data centers and is in the process of building even more data centers in other locations.

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