If you are unclear or cloudy over cloud storage you are not alone. Many people I speak with, roll their eyes (and sometimes their heads too while spinning their finger in the air) when they mention the cloud, like it is floating about somewhere in the atmosphere. All this rolling and spinning is getting me a bit dizzy, so I thought I’d attempt to lend some clarity to “the cloud”.
It’s simple. When you use cloud storage, you are saving your data (via the Internet) on a remote database owned by a company, instead of your computer’s hard drive or one of your physical backup drives. With your data stored in the cloud, you now can access it via Internet access; it is not restricted to one device. Additionally should your computer or hard drive backup fail, your data is not lost.
Your photos on Facebook are a simple example of cloud storage. You’ve uploaded your favorite photos to Facebook via the Internet, and whether you are on your phone, tablet, laptop, or even a friend’s device you can access them. With Facebook, others that you authorize to share with can also see your photos. TADA! You’ve been using cloud storage ever since you’ve been on Facebook.
Another example of cloud storage is the iCloud for your iPhone and other Apple devices. Once data is on the iCloud it can be accessed from any of your Apple devices (phone, iPad, iPod, computer).
Most cloud services allow you a specified amount of free storage (2-15 GB depending on the service), and then charge additional fees for additional space. Amazon Cloud, Apple iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive (previously SkyDrive), and Verizon Cloud are current popular cloud services.
Having a backup of your data, being able to access and share your data across multiple devices, and document sharing are the big pluses of cloud storage. However privacy and security concerns exist. Data breaches are unfortunately common today which is why I shy away from using the cloud to store financial, personal, or sensitive documents. Music, photos, and contacts that would be hard to replace are my best candidates for personal data on the cloud.
The cloud is also great for file sharing, but again I would not share any documents of a sensitive nature, or anything that could compromise intellectual property should there be a data breach.
Perhaps I am being overly cautious as the convenience of storing your data in the cloud and file sharing may in fact outweigh the potential risks.
How do you feel about storing your data in the cloud?