Whether you store terabytes of vacation photos or many important documents on your computer, you need to keep your data secure - reliable and accessible.
The main challenge in achieving these goals is choosing where your data will be stored. Do you need to rely on your computer's hard drive? Or do you need an external hard drive for backup purposes? Or maybe you need to move all your data to the cloud?
Cloud storage has become popular in recent years. The idea itself is pretty simple. You access such a service through a device connected to the Internet, downloading all the files that you need at the moment. These files are located on a server that may be physically located thousands of kilometers from you.
There are dozens of companies that offer some form of cloud storage. Some of them even provide users with a certain amount of storage space for free. With the many offers on the market, consumers can easily find one that suits them best. This is all good news for people interested in cloud storage, but how good is the idea itself?
Let's look at the pros and cons of using cloud storage and clarify why backing up your data is necessary.
A ray of hope in the clouds
Perhaps the most compelling feature of cloud storage is giving you a variety of choices to sample your data. Typically, a cloud storage service requires you to create a password protected account with a unique username. By connecting to the service through a desktop program, or through an application in a smartphone, or through a browser, you get access to your files.
This means you don't need to keep track of different drives and devices. You can open a file on one computer, modify it, and save it to the cloud. Subsequently, you can access the new version of the file on another computer by connecting to the cloud storage service. There is no need to send files by email or transfer them on a physical medium such as a USB stick.
Another positive characteristic of cloud storage is the provision of redundancy by any known service by storing your data on multiple servers. This way, if one server goes down, you will still be able to retrieve your personal files without too much trouble. Most cloud networks ensure that every server containing your data will keep the latest version of your files.
Have you ever lost your digital files or faced hard drive failure? This can be a very frustrating experience. You may find yourself having to deliver your hard drive or computer to a data extraction technician, and even then chances are that you won't get all of your data. This is why backing up data is so important. It creates redundancy — if one disk fails, you can still access data on the other system. Whether you prefer cloud storage or an external drive you own, remember to back up your data. This will avoid a big headache later.
Storing your data in the cloud also protects your data in case something happens to your physical device. Natural disasters such as floods and fires can destroy all of your information. A good cloud storage network places its servers in secure locations, with fault-tolerant defenses to keep their computers safe.
However, cloud storage also has a number of disadvantages. Storing data in the clouds is a business, and any business can fail. If the cloud storage you are using is facing financial problems, you may need to quickly download all of your data before the cloud service stops working. In addition, using cloud storage means you can be confident that the closing business will take every step to ensure that all customers have their data destroyed before the sale of assets begins. You don't want your personal files to remain on a server sold to another company.
If you're concerned about the privacy of your data, it's also a good idea to consider how your data might be used by a storage service. You should read the terms of service carefully - this is a long document that people most often just skip without reading before clicking on the "Agree" button. It is possible that some cloud storages may send you advertisements aimed at you personally, for which your data stored in the system is used. It is possible that no one person will read your information, but for some people, the very idea that the system is viewing their files for advertising purposes may serve as an impetus to cancel the decision.
One of the questions you should answer before diving into a cloud storage service is "Who owns my data ?" Again, it is very important to read the terms of service. Some services may claim that the service owns everything stored on their servers. While you obviously own the data stored on your computer's hard drive, this may not be the case with cloud storage.
In addition, there are data protection issues. A good storage service will encrypt all data. Ideally, the data cannot be used even if a hacker gains access to it. You can bet that large cloud storage uses much more stringent data protection methods than the average computer user. But it is also true that these companies are more tempting targets for the hacker than the average user.
The final drawback is that you need an Internet connection to access your files. If you find yourself in a place where such a connection is limited or not available, or your connection fails, then your data becomes inaccessible to you. The same happens in the event of catastrophic damage to cloud storage equipment - if the data center is left without electricity or connection to the Internet, then your data becomes inaccessible.
Remember that the cloud storage service is interested in providing as reliable communication and data protection as possible. But still, an important takeaway from what was said for you is the need to have backups of your data.
Do not store all your data on one device - devices fail and you can lose important or irreplaceable information. Balancing cloud storage and local device is a great solution. Just use only those cloud services about which you have no doubt that they will work for you!
Note from the author
I use a combination of local and cloud storage to store my files. I have an external hard drive that I use to back up files on my iMac every week. For many of my personal projects, I use cloud storage. In addition, I have a dozen flash drives where I store photos, videos and other files. Keeping track of all these different forms of storage is quite difficult in itself, but at the cost of redundancy it helps me keep my data safe.
The Topic of Article: Understanding: Do I need to move my hard drive to the clouds?.