A few years ago it was hard to even imagine the concept of the cloud.  Now, the cloud is infused in almost every part of life and recently it has begun it’s surge into the world of printing.  Now throwingpapersdocuments can not only be saved and retrieved in the cloud, through programs like DropBox (www.dropbox.com), but they can also be printed remotely from smart phones, tablets, and laptops to any compatible device.  There is even free software available for older copiers and printers that allows them to take advantage of this new technology.

Of course, for some businesses the technology is just too new and has not had the time to earn trust when it comes to security.  We do know that the risk in transmitting documents through the cloud is extremely low, but any risk is too much for some businesses like banks, government agencies, etc.  Of course, one could argue that essentially any transaction over the internet has the same inherent risks.

So what exactly is the cloud and how does cloud printing work?  I’ll explain the cloud here and in upcoming posts expand on the function of cloud printing.

The Cloud

It sounds so ominous, but in reality it is a great way to describe what is happening to the data once it leaves a computer and ventures out into the giant world of servers.

It used to be that the only time data left a computer was to be transmitted quickly to another computer or storage device like a disk.  This still created problems as the disk, or other computer, would then need to be transported to a safe location for back up.

The obvious next step was to just transmit the data to a remote computer where it would be a safe back up without the middle step of transportation.

In time, this soon spawned hundreds of programs designed to store data in remote locations and thus “The Cloud” came into existence.

In short, the cloud is just data that is stored on a giant computer used to regulate the internet.  Just like searches are saved when we use a web browser, which allows us to use the back button to return to previous websites, so our data can be stored on dedicated servers.  Then when we are 500 miles away, we can still access it without the need for an external hard drive or a call to our wife to email it to us.

The same principal goes for cloud printing.  In short, documents can be retrieved and printed over the internet to any device, anywhere in the world.  It’s a little daunting, but will soon be common place  and in several generations this sentence will seem completely archaic.

More on cloud printing to follow…