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What are my options for taking my desktop to the cloud?

Back in the early days of computing, it was quite common to have several computer terminals (also known as thin clients) connected to a mainframe. The terminals were basically and keyboard, mouse and monitor, with very little else actually on computer itself. Everything the terminals did was performed by the mainframe computer.

As the power of PCs increased and the costs when down, the old model of terminal-mainframe mostly went away and the desktop computer became commonplace. Each computer had its own operating system and software, performed its own processing and stored its own data on their own hard drives, rather than relying on a mainframe server to do all of this for them.

The IT world has now come the full circle. Software and files once stored on each PC in an office are now being moved to offsite servers (otherwise known as "the Cloud"). Now even the entire desktop can also be moved to the Cloud. This means that the desktop settings, the applications used and all files are stored remotely on a server rather than on the local hard drive.

Google's Chrome OS is, in a sense, a form of desktop virtualization. The Chrome OS is essentially the Google Chrome browser and everything is done through the web whether it's using Google Apps or other kinds of apps. Apps that are "installed" in Chrome OS are really just links to places on the web where the app is actually being run. With HTML5 starting to be used more and more, the number of tasks that can be performed through a browser like interface is increasing at a rapid pace.

Microsoft's virtual desktop solution involves setting up a Windows 2008 server that each PC connects for their desktop environment. Using this method, the applications, the files stored and even the operating system itself, will be kept on the remote server, not on the individual desktop computers. If preferred, rather than relying on Microsoft for the virtualization, VMware can be used to provide the virtual desktops. The desktops will then no longer be tied to the individual PC.

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