If you like all things Apple, it's probably a fair assumption that you rely on the iCloud to store your contacts, photos, videos, apps and more. It's also a probable assumption that you have no idea what the iCloud is. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. The iCloud seems to be this magical entity in the Apple atmosphere that collects and stores our most valuable information until we want to access it (sometimes it gets leaked but let’s just ignore that for now). However, is the iCloud an environmentally friendly solution to backing up data?
Let’s first dive into what the iCloud is. According to Apple, the iCloud connects your important things to all of your Apple devices. For example, if you purchase and download music from iTunes on your Macbook computer but also want the songs on your iPhone, iCloud makes that happen. It also lets you connect your calendar, share pictures and even locate your iPhone, computer or iPod Touch if you misplace it. The iCloud does this without even asking it to. When the necessary storage space is available, iCloud will automatically back up your device when it’s connected to a wireless network and plugged in for charging.
Storing and retrieving important information such as documents, spreadsheets, calendars and more in the cloud space (also known as cloud computing) is becoming common but is it all too good to be true? How does switching to cloud storage impact the environment? According to BSR (Business for Social Responsibility) and Ecoseed, relying on clouds can actually replace technologies such as external hard drives and custom USB flash drives and positively impact energy efficiency and sustainability. The cloud can allocate resources to users and maximize efficiency so data can be shared across multiple devices and multiple users. In addition, RenewableEnergyWorld.com reported that AT&T funded a research firm’s climate change investigation and found that cloud computing could help big companies reduce carbon emissions by more than 80 million tons annually by 2020.
Since cloud computing is still fairly new, some environmental challenges and drawbacks may persist. Consumers and small and large businesses that rely heavily on the cloud may be using more energy than beforehand. Now they’ll be dependent on their devices' battery life and wireless Internet connection more than when documents were saved right on desktop or servers. People may even find themselves constantly charging their device now that they can access information from anywhere, upgrading to broadband Internet connection and having higher energy bills.
All in all, this new technology could disrupt the way we store and access information. Who ever thought we’d be storing our pictures in clouds as opposed to snapping pictures of clouds?