Slow computer? The cloud may be your fast fix

·4-min read

Yahoo Life is committed to finding you the best products at the best prices. Some of the products written about here are offered in affiliation with Yahoo. We may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change.

Couple at home, planning home budget together
For those curious about "the cloud", here's your explainer. (Photo: Getty)

You’ve likely heard people talk about “the cloud” in the context of devices and data storage—but if you’ve merely nodded along while wondering if they’re referring to the weather, you’re not alone. One study revealed that 1 in 5 Americans (22 percent) have pretended to know what “the cloud” is while secretly having no idea. But chances are, you’ve already been making good use of this mysterious cloud without knowing it. For example, if you’ve ever looked at a photo on social media or watched a movie on a streaming service, you’ve experienced the cloud. (Yes, really!)

Between storing data on the cloud and running a software program like System Mechanic, you may just start to notice faster processing speeds. Here’s an overview of how it works.

Try System Mechanic for 30 days free*

What Even Is the Cloud?

A cloud is a form of external storage that backs up digital information—anything from a video you stow away during your phone’s backup to a presentation you stash on your company’s shared drive. Put in the simplest terms, the cloud guarantees that your phone or computer isn’t the only place where this important data exists. That means greater peace of mind that your photos and documents are safe, secure (since clouds are password-protected), and retrievable if you lose your phone or laptop—in which case you can just go to the cloud and grab the file. In the old days, floppy discs and USB drives served this purpose; now, our data is housed on these digital platforms supported by massive servers (the physical machines that make it possible to store all that info). You’ve likely been using the cloud for some time—and quite regularly—without realizing it.

cloud computing in hand with icons cloud technology data storage, memory, document, business woman with thumbs touch in the concept of network and internet services
The cloud ensures that your phone or computer isn't the only place where data (or those precious photos!) exists. (Photo: Getty)

What Are the Benefits of the Cloud?

In addition to keeping a handy backup copy of all your important pics and docs, saving large files (or thousands of tiny ones—all those photos add up fast!) somewhere other than your computer means you use less of your operating system’s data storage. The takeaway? Having more files in the cloud can free up a lot of space, and for various technical reasons (file fragmentation, anyone?), more storage space can translate to much faster processing speeds.

If you want to ramp up that swift performance even further, you can do some spring cleaning on your computer with a program like System Mechanic. Think of it as a little fleet of housecleaners scrubbing away within your computer’s operating system, removing unnecessary software and files and sweeping for pesky bandwidth-stealing digital clutter—the kind that can kick you off the internet or cause your computer to freeze or reboot without warning. A software bundle that runs continuously, System Mechanic also monitors your computer to remove speed-reducing browser cookies, which you can customize so you don’t lose the ones you use often. (These are what help websites remember you without your having to log in each time.) Combine this program with savvy cloud usage, and the result will likely be a newly tidied machine that runs at optimum speed.

Try System Mechanic for 30 days free*

Smiling man working at home
You can set your computer to automatically backup to the cloud. (Photo: Getty)

What Should I Save in the Cloud?

Research shows that the number one form of digital material that people save to the cloud is photos, and with good reason, since none of us want to lose something so personal. Next up are system backups, like those that your phone performs so you don’t lose your downloaded apps, photos, or recent bookmarks and tabs. We also use the cloud to store our music; office documents; passwords and login info (ever had your computer or phone automatically populate it when you go to sign in? That was the cloud looking out for you!); and our financial information, such as digital tax returns.

Not sure you’ll remember to regularly move these kinds of files to the cloud? Here’s some good news: You can set your computer to automatically back up to the cloud, just like your phone does.

Try System Mechanic for 30 days free*