Cloud storage may sound like intimidating technology to use. I personally used to try to avoid it until I always found myself looking for alternative ways to store data.
So what is cloud storage? Cloud storage is storing digital data on a remote physical location, which can be accessed over a network, such as the internet, from a device. The digital data is stored on multiple servers that is owned and managed by a cloud storage provider.
Cloud storage can be useful in saving room on your local machine, but it also serves a purpose in lowering the likelihood that you lose valuable data even in the event that something happens to your computer. Storing your information over the internet can always be a risk. There are also many valuable services that offer different storage plans.
Explanation of Cloud Storage
Lets first briefly discuss what is the cloud. The cloud is a cluster of computers (multiple servers) that communicate to one another over a network such as the internet.
Cloud storage is a feature of the cloud. Typically a cloud storage company manages the security, capacity and durability to ensure users are able to upload and download data from around the world.
Firstly, a user uploads files from their device, through an app provided by the cloud storage provider.
Next, the data is uploaded to multiple servers owned by the company and these servers reside in what is called a data center. Companies usually have multiple data centers, which helps reduce the likelihood of your data being lost.
Why Store Data in the Cloud
Storing digital data in the cloud helps reduce the chance of losing that data. If you only stored data on your personal computer and something bizarre happens such as your computer getting stolen, or your hard drive gets destroyed then your data will be lost.
The benefit of cloud storage is that your data can be stored on more than one remote server at a time. All of this is handled by the cloud storage company and all you need to do is upload your data to the company of your choice. They essentially take care of the rest of the work for you such as security, backing up your data and managing your data.
The next question you may ask is what if something happens to the remote servers that your data is stored on. Well the benefit is that these companies back up your data in more than one data center, therefore if a catastrophic event wiped out one data center than your data would be safe in another data center therefore reducing the risk of you losing your data.
If you find yourself running out of space on your local computer, cloud storage can be what you are looking for. Sometimes we do not realize how many photos, videos and large documents we have stored that can be stored elsewhere. Clearing up space on your local computer can help with its performance and provide a more secure location to store data.
The advantage to cloud storage is the cost and convenience. Without a cloud storage provider, you would have to worry about setting up a personal server, buying expensive hard drives for storage, setting up a network, taking care of the security and a lot more.
The benefit of the vendors is that they take care of this for you and they allow you to scale your space up or down depending on your needs at the time.
Is Cloud Storage Safe
Yes, cloud storage is safe but users must know that there is no 100% guarantee that your data will always be safe. Cloud storage providers are run by a team of people who devise complex algorithms and encryption systems to help ensure that your data will not be accessible by anyone except yourself.
This does rely though that you, the user, is someone who creates hard to crack passwords by using different passwords and not sharing it with anyone. There is still responsibility on the user’s part to do their research on reliable third party cloud storage providers and as stated before to create strong passwords that no one else can guess.
Since the iCloud “hack” that affected many celebrities people began to lose faith in storing their data in the cloud and especially Apple’s iCloud. Information that was spread lead people to believe that there was a breach in the cloud storage providers encryption process.
The “hacker” was able to steal these celebrities photos because they gained access to the celebrities passwords by sending phishing emails and figuring out their login details on their own.
That is why it is important to practice safe habits on the internet such as not clicking on suspicious links, not giving your password out and creating passwords that are difficult to guess.
Different Cloud Storage Providers
There are many cloud storage providers to choose from and below consists of a few of them along with a short description about them. A lot of these providers give limited free space and provide other cloud based services which is why it can be useful to use more than one cloud provider at a time.
These providers also offer business price plans but I will be showcasing their various personal plans. More info on the business prices can be found on their respective websites.
Google drive provides users with 15 GB of free storage space along with the Google suite. The Google suite consist of Gmail, Google docs, forms, sheets and many more.
If you feel you need more space than is provided by the free tier then you can upgrade to the paid version called Google One. Here are the different tiers: $1.99 / month for 100 GB, $2.99 / month for 200 GB, $9.99 / month for 2 TB, $99.99 / month for 10 TB, $199.99 / month for 20 TB and $299.99 / month for 30 TB.
DropBox provides users with 2GB of free storage, but this amount can be increased to 16GB for free by linking your Dropbox account to your social media account and referring friends to join Dropbox. For each friend that signs up, your account will be credited with 500MB of space and cap out at 16GB.
Dropbox plans can be paid out monthly or you can save some money by paying monthly. Users may upgrade to their plus plan for 1 TB of space at $9.99 / month or $99.00 / year. Their next plan is their Professional plan for 2 TB of space at $19.99 / month or $199.00 / year.
Microsoft’s OneDrive comes integrated with Windows 8+ as a directory in the file explorer making it convenient to use with Windows. There is also a OneDrive app though that can be downloaded on Android, Mac, and iOS. OneDrive offers 5 GB of space for free after signing up.
Users can upgrade to 50GB for $1.99 / month. The next plan is 1TB for $6.99 per month or $69.99 / year. Their last plan is 6TB for $9.99 / month or $99.99 / year.
Amazon’ s One Drive offers 5 GB of free space along with unlimited photo storage for Amazon Prime members.
Their different price options consist of 100GB for $11.99 / month and a 1TB plan for $59.99 / year
Apple iCloud Drive
Apple’s iCloud comes integrated with Apple products and comes with 5GB of free space when a user signs up. The cloud storage service can be downloaded for Windows users.
The different plans consist of 50GB for $0.99 / month, 200GB for $2.99 / month and 2TB for $9.99 / month. The 200GB plan and the 2TB plan can be shared amongst your family.
MediaFire is compatible with Windows, Mac OS, iPhone and Android. They have an application that can be downloaded on their site and on sign up you get 10GB of free space. They offer an additional 40GB of free space through referring friends and sharing links to your social media through their website. In total you can have 50GB of space for free with MediaFire.
The different plans consist of 1TB for $3.75 / month and 100TB for $40 / month.
How do I use cloud storage? You can use cloud storage by signing up with a cloud storage provider, then downloading their cloud storage application if necessary to your different devices. Next, upload data through the app on your respective device.
What is mobile cloud storage? Mobile cloud storage is the same concept as cloud storage for your computers. This allows users to sync data on their mobile devices with their tablets, laptops and computers.