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For Seniors: Understand Cloud Computing

You may have heard the term cloud bandied about. The term comes from the world of computer networks, where certain functionality isn’t installed on computers but resides on the network itself, in the so-called cloud, where it can be accessed by individual computers.

Today, definition of the term has broadened to include functionality that resides on the Internet. If you can get work done without using an installed piece of software — or if you store and share photos online or work with an e-mail service such as Gmail or Outlook — you're working in the cloud.

The cloud is especially useful to you if you travel with your laptop as you can store content online and access it wherever you are (if you have an Internet connection) without having to carry it on a USB stick, DVD, or store it on your hard drive.

Two Windows 8.1 features can help you access your own data in the cloud: Sync and SkyDrive. Sync allows you to share the settings you’ve made in Windows 8.1 on one computer with other Windows 8.1 computers. SkyDrive is a file-sharing service that has been around a while, but with Windows 8.1, sharing files from your laptop with others or with yourself on another computer is more seamless than ever.

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