If you spend any time reading about online companies and services, it’s likely that you see the term “the cloud” almost every day. What exactly is the cloud, though — and how does it benefit you?

To understand the cloud, you must first understand that the cloud is not the Internet — it is a group of servers on the Internet. Also, there are many clouds, not just one. It’s likely that you use cloud-based services every day.

What Is the Cloud?

When you view most websites on your smartphone or computer, your device communicates with one remote server. Your device requests a page from the server, and the server sends it. In a cloud, many servers work together to run more complex applications, handle more traffic and provide greater reliability.

What Can the Cloud Do?

The Cloud Handles Heavy User Loads

When many servers work together, they can accomplish far more than an individual server could on its own. Suppose, for example, that Google provided search results from just one server. Google processes tens of thousands of searches each second. It’s a load that would cripple any individual server, so Google uses data centers full of servers that work together to handle the traffic.

The Cloud Stores Massive Amounts of Data

Cloud computing doesn’t only make it possible for web-based services to handle large user loads — it also allows many servers to combine their storage capacity. Services that store vast amounts of content — such as YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video — and allow you to access the content from one interface wouldn’t be possible without cloud computing.