What Is Cloud Storage and Why Is It Helpful?
An interesting bit of trivia - Cloud Storage in its most basic form has been around since the early nineties. Of course, those were the very first basic steps in outsourcing storage onto the Web, and we have come a long, long way since then – so much so that Cloud Storage is now without a doubt one of the most common and affordable ways to store, share or back up data. Companies that provide Cloud Storage services usually design their products and services so that said data can be easily accessed at will, from anywhere, by the users and possibly other individuals around the world. Cloud Technology currently allows its users to store and handle files without being bothered about storage space on said user's hard drive or server network.
Another great way to utilize Cloud Storage is to use it as a backup service – users can make sure that not a single file goes missing due a PC or server issue. Hard drive failure, viruses or corruption of files can all have disastrous results for a user that really needs his files in order – but if said data is backed up on a Cloud Storage platform, said catastrophe could be mitigated to a mere temporary inconvenience.
What is Cloud Storage?
As with many other similar instances that relate to definitions in IT technology and practices developed by many different companies, the definition of 'Cloud Storage' is a bit fuzzy around the edges and can vary from user to user. However, for the purposes of this article, it is assumed that Cloud Storage means 'A method of storing, coordinating and protecting of essential data in a virtual cloud that can be readily accessed by multiple users'. Of course, that's a working definition, and in no way conclusive, as some caveats may apply – but that's the general gist of it. The user's data is stored by a third party at a remote location, as a service. The abovementioned service provider may have various service plans with additional benefits aside from storage, but it is generally the Cloud Storage service that is the main service. The user's is transmitted through the Internet, and users can have access to their stored data readily regardless of their location via Internet.
Benefits of Cloud Storage
Suffice it to say that the benefits if Cloud Storage are as many as they are varied:
- Cloud Storage is a secure and reliable method of backing up essential files
- Files stored on Cloud Storage are accessible from anywhere
- Files stored on Cloud Storage can be retrieved remotely
- Cloud Storage is an affordable, compared to the alternatives, with little to no starting investment to speak of
- Cloud Storage provides a safety net in the event of failure or data loss
- Cloud Storage does not require the installation and maintenance of storage equipment
- Cloud Storage is usually optimized for improved user experience, and as such can dramatically improve the workflow of a company or business
Drawbacks of Cloud Storage
With that having been said, Cloud Storage is by no means the end-all be-all of storage solutions. Naturally, it is a service with certain essential limitations.
- Cloud Storage requires a stable, high speed internet connection for users to make the most of it
Data uploaded on to Cloud Storage is stored on third party servers
- Cloud Storage providers may need to close its service for maintenance occasionally, and in such periods the user's data may be rendered temporarily inaccessible
- If a Cloud Storage provider shuts its service down permanently, users may lose valuable data
- Premium Cloud Storage services can cost a considerable amount, especially as the storage volume increases
Some Cloud Storage service providers offer a free, restricted plan that can accommodate some of the user's common needs. Paid services are usually also provided in case the user wants to use the cloud for storing huge piles of files or business essentials.
Some More Details on Cloud Storage
Overall, the Cloud Storage system works as well as it does because of the separation of function between the Cloud Storage provider and the user allows each of them to do what they need to do with minimum hassle. The Cloud Storage service provider regulates a base of storage located at multiple discrete sites. This allows them to implement effective security, monitoring and administrative techniques that other storing approaches do not allow. Major Cloud Storage providers have thousands of separate servers that are mutually connected in what can be described as a grid configuration. That is how the entire system can work as an individual directory.
Unfortunately, while IT tech is advancing rapidly, we're still not out of the age where component breakdowns or file corruption, as well as malicious attacks are a thing of the past. Well, such disasters can largely be mitigated by backing up all of a user's crucial data – and it just so happens that Cloud Storage is the easiest and most accessible method of doing that, for the average Internet user.
Companies can also make good use of Cloud Storage - employees and clients can receive instant access to data stored on a company's Cloud Storage without the usual risks associated with handling sensitive information over the Internet. All the user who wishes to share confidential files needs to do is upload said files in the cloud and share the link with the intended recipient. Said recipient can then check out the file at their leisure and download it at will. No pesky transfer of USB-drives or disks that can get scratched and otherwise rendered unusable is necessary.
Cloud Storage is also almost universally a good solution for users who are concerned with the security of sensitive data. The thing is, most the providers are prioritizing the develop of top-notch security solutions and tools. Nowadays, many big Cloud Storage providers employ so-called 'military-grade encryption' – algorithms so complex that it is next to impossible to break them – to secure the data of their users. Additionally, Cloud Storage service can also provide enhanced security against malicious attacks. Since the files that are stored on the Cloud Storage's platform are usually stored in an encrypted form, there is no chance of them bring corrupted while dormant in the data center.
Although it may sound complicated and less substantial than an external hard drive that you can actually hold in your hand, Cloud Storage is one of the simplest and safest ways to back up, share and store essential data. It can save both space and money, and has the potential to make communication that much more reliable, quick and easy.