Depending on how tech savvy and current you are on technology trends, you may already know a lot about cloud storage. In fact, you may already utilize the offerings of many cloud storage providers and love the benefits. Or maybe you are clueless as to what cloud storage entails and how it can benefit you. If you fall in this second category, you may be surprised when you read on and find out that you are already utilizing the services of multiple cloud storage providing websites.
How It Works
A physical data server is connected to the internet. Most cloud storage providers have a system of multiple servers connected to each other. These storage systems are called data centers. Files are sent over the internet to the data center where the information is recorded and stored. When someone wants to retrieve their file, they simply access the file over the internet via the provider’s website. Files can then be retrieved to download from the server or they can be changed and resaved on the server itself. Within the data center, multiple servers share information with each other so that the information is always stored at more than one physical location. These physical storage locations often have different power sources as well. This ensures that even if one server fails for some reason, the information will not be lost.
Personal Cloud Storage
The simplest example of personal cloud storage will be very familiar to you and has been around for a long time. Email providers like Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, and MSN are all examples of data stored and retrieved virtually over the internet. When you use these emailing services you can access your emails over the internet, but the emails are not automatically saved to your computer.
Other than email, you can now store photos, presentations, slideshows, documents, spreadsheets, music, and many other files over the internet with websites like Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon Cloud, Picasa, and others. Many websites that offer personal cloud storage options offer a certain amount of storage for free. If you want additional storage, you will most likely have to pay a fee. Using cloud storage can make it easy to share photos and files with friends and family from nearly any location on the globe.
Business Cloud Storage
Many small businesses utilize services from the same websites as individuals. If you run a Google search on “cloud storage for businesses” you may get an astounding 733 million results. Cloud storage is currently a very competitive marketplace! Narrowing down the options to find the ideal match for your business may seem overwhelming. As in many other business decisions, you may want to focus on providers who make it easy for you to get in touch with them by phone like I.T. Now. Before choosing a provider you will want to make sure that someone can answer all of your questions upfront and that you will have access to someone who can answer your questions going forward.
Pros of Cloud Storage
- Can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection
- Far cheaper than buying physical storage solutions (servers, drives, etc.)
- No physical storage required (potentially no more drives, disks, etc.)
- Can offer an offsite solution for data backup (in addition to your existing data storage)
- Makes it easier for multiple people to collaborate on files and projects
- Every employee can have access to company files with only their own computer
- Data can be encrypted by the provider to add more security to your files
Cons of Cloud Storage
- Hackers could become skilled enough at some point in the future to hack into the storage servers and steal the files, even when they are encrypted
- Other users can alter or delete information if the files are shared
- Even with the best technology, the storage system could still crash at some point
- The storage site might go down right when you have to retrieve an important file
- The internet might not connect when you need to retrieve a file
- Other people might find a way to access your files and steal your information
Cloud storage offers many attractive benefits. While risks do exist, some of the risks do seem rather unlikely. The best scenario, whenever possible, is to store your most important files and information via multiple storage options. Consider the files that mean the most to you and that would be the hardest to recreate. These are the files you should be backing up on your own. Even if you do use some form of cloud storage, you will most likely want to have a hard copy version backed up on your own jump drives or external hard drives just in case.
Whitney Hollingshead is an optimist, a dreamer, and a professional writer. After graduating from Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business, she spent five years working in international operations management. Whitney loves business strategy and enjoys discussing innovative business solutions with others.