What exactly is Cloud Storage
If you are like most people you will have numerous devices around your home, all with various types of data on them. You may have a laptop with documents, a phone with photos and video clips and an iPad with photos and emails. Some of this data may be backed up, much of it may be duplicated and it is within this chaos that data, both essential and not, gets misplaced, overwritten, corrupted or lost.
What about regularly backing up all your individual devices and their respective content to a central, safe repository which you can then access anytime from anywhere. Say hello to Cloud Storage!
How does Cloud storage work?
Cloud storage refers to saving your data off-site, in other words, not on any of your own devices but on a storage system or server managed by a third party. To save data to and access data from the Cloud, you need to be connected to the internet. Your data will be accessible in a variety of ways, usually via a user-friendly web interface. Most people use Cloud Storage every day without maybe realising that this is what they are using. If you have used YouTube, Facebook or Google Docs to store data, then you have already saved and accessed data from the Cloud.
Advantages of Cloud Storage
There are 3 main advantages to Cloud Storage:
1. You can access (and share) your data from anywhere
This can be useful for both personal and business life. On a personal level, you can upload your photos to the cloud and access them later from any web-enabled device. Why lug those holiday photos around to torture your friends and family with when you can just torture them remotely!
Sharing of information is vital in running an efficient business, and this is especially the case when working across different locations and timezones. Cloud storage gives businesses the flexibility to store documents on the Internet from where they can be easily shared. Authorized members of an organization can access files stored in the Cloud and make necessary changes. This saves time and effort as they are not required to send multiple emails to update other users on these changes.
When you store files in the Cloud, they can be accessed from anywhere at any time from any device, thus allowing the organization to adopt a BYOD (bring your own device) policy whereby employees can access important work files from Cloud storage using their own devices.
2. Your data is backed up
Regular data backups can be a time consuming task especially when the volume of data is large and continuously growing. When you opt for cloud storage services, you can either go for an automated predefined schedule for backup or continuous data backup. Backups in Cloud Storage are automated tasks with no human intervention required at any stage.
Data backup is one of the main reasons that users opt for Cloud Storage. Apart from the fact that backups can be automated, users like the insurance that all their data (particularly photographs), is backed-up up to a remote location and can be restored should the worst happen and their local data is lost, stolen or corrupted.
3. The Cloud gives you more space for data
In the past there were hoarders of things, now there are hoarders of data and most of us are guilty of it to some degree! While we are procrastinating over that PC ‘spring clean’, we can get some extra storage space on the cloud to use as a temporary ‘junk room’ for the stuff we need to sort through.
4. Cloud Storage enables you to organise your data more effectively
Having a central repository to store all your information and data should allow you to organise that data more effectively. Instead of having duplicates and triplicates of some data on various devices and hard-drives, you will be able to syncronise all your data to one location and organise your files and folders accordingly.
Disadvantages of Cloud Storage
1. Cloud Storage requires a good internet connection
One of the drawbacks of Cloud Storage is that it works well only when higher bandwidth Internet connections are used.
2. Data ownership
This is more of a theoretical disadvantage but it is potentially hugely important. There are debates underway as to the ownership of data once it is uploaded to the Cloud. You may have come across some of these discussions regarding users uploading photographs etc. to their Facebook pages. This doesn’t seem to be enough to put people or organisations off using Cloud Storage solutions but it is likely to be a debate that goes on for some time yet.
How safe and secure is my data in the Cloud?
There are new Cloud Storage companies or Data Centers popping up every day – so how do you know which ones to trust with your data? A good Data Center should have numerous servers to facilitate backups, maintenance work and unforeseen events. They should also have servers running on different power supplies to guarantee access in the event of outages.
For those who have yet to sign up to a Cloud Storage package, the issue of safety and security of data seems to be what holds them back. How safe is their data from being accidentally deleted and how secure is it from prying eyes?
When it comes to Cloud Storage, reputation is everything – you want to ensure that the company you are entrusting your data with has an existing reputation that it will invest in protecting. Security can never be 100%, regardless of what any company says and we have seen evidence of this with the recent Heartbleed Bug. However, data on secure Cloud servers is probably safer than it is on your PC or external hard-drive where hacking and/or theft are always a possibility.
There is no doubt about it though, Cloud storage is the way forward so it’s not a question of whether or not to opt for Cloud storage, it is when you are going to take the plunge. To make this decision easier, and see how much data you think you may need,you should test out different cloud storage options.