Using the cloud to store your data is becoming one of the most widely used storage methods, but before you opt to use it, you need to know what you are getting into so that you can make an informed decision.
Why consider Cloud Storage?
Cloud-based data storage is extremely popular because it is convenient, quick, generally reliable, and easy to use. You are not required to pay for the hardware to store the data on, so it is also a relatively economical method of data storage, and since many companies only charge for what you use, you will not be spending money on storage space you can’t use.
Due to the way cloud-based storage works, the data is stored on many servers so even if several of them fail, your data is not lost. The chances of several servers in different areas being damaged at the same time are very slim, making it almost impossible for your data to disappear altogether.
If you have stored your data in the cloud, as long as you remember your password, you can always access that data, no matter what device you are using. You can access it from a desktop, laptop, tablet, or even a phone, so even if a device dies, your data is safe.
Sharing Cloud Data
Data that you have stored in the cloud can be shared easily. You can create a cloud-based information deposit that can be accessed by anyone you give the password to. You could do this with work colleagues to allow all of you access to a current project, with friends or family to allow everything from photo sharing to a family tree project, or with members of a social group to allow information sharing. It gives all participants access to up-to-the-minute information without having to send each bit of data by email or other means.
For those of us who procrastinate over things like data backups, the cloud offers the advantage of being automatically backed up for us. There are no schedules to adhere to, no time spent creating backups, and no worries about it not being done. The cloud takes all those worries away, and you will always have access to a current version of your data.
Who Owns the Data Now?
One of the biggest disadvantages of using cloud-based storage is that many cloud-based storage companies/services take full ownership of all data stored with them, meaning that once you sign on with them, they then own all your data and can do whatever they like with it. You lose ownership of your data and cannot dictate what happens to it. If that prospect puts you off the idea of cloud-based storage completely, you can look for companies that do not appropriate ownership of your data – they do exist. The key here is to read your service agreement very carefully before signing on.
The biggest disadvantage of cloud-based storage is that the cloud can be hacked and your data can be stolen. Anything that is on the internet in any way is vulnerable to hackers, but if you are careful to choose a company that implements good security policy and procedure, the risk can be minimized.
Cloud storage is not for everyone, but it can certainly be a useful tool under the right circumstances.