Just over a year ago, we discussed the use of cloud storage in the blog post What is cloud storage and what are the pros and cons. This is an issue that comes up multiple times each day at SDM, so it is worth reviewing. THE cloud is a misnomer. There are many clouds. Any storage that is not on your device, will be in the cloud. So let’s get into what you should you know about cloud storage.
Definition of Cloud Storage:
The first step in what you should you know about cloud storage, is in understanding what it is. Cloud storage means storage on computers that are separate from the user. Cloud computers are owned by companies for the express purpose of storing people’s data. The Internet provides access to these computers.
iCloud and OneDrive are focused on certain devices. iCloud is mainly for Apple devices: Macs, iPhones and iPads. OneDrive likewise for devices running Microsoft Windows.
Apple provides 5 GB free with every Apple ID. This is shared across any devices logged into that ID. Microsoft offers 5 GB free with every Microsoft account. Not only do these provide storage, but they also allow other devices to access and share the same data, in the form of documents, contacts, notes, and photos for example.
Google provides 15 GB free with every Google account. This is shared across any devices that are logged into that Google account. In the past, Google allowed much of the content created in the Google account, to be stored free without counting it toward the storage limit. As of June 1st, any new content will begin to use this storage. See our blog post How Will Google’s Changes to Photos Affect You?
Other cloud providers, are not tied to any operating system, hardware or email account. A free Dropbox account comes with 2 GB free. This account can be used for any types of files, on any devices.
Cost of Cloud Storage
Additional storage can be purchased from any of these companies at fairly low rates. For comparison purposes, as of April 1, 2021, 1 TB of storage would cost the following:
- OneDrive (Part of Office 365 Subscription) $7/month
- DropBox (3 TB) $17/month
- iCloud (2 TB) $10/month
- Google Drive (2 TB) $10/month
Strengths of Cloud Storage:
- Backup of data that is physically separate from your device. The cloud enables online storage that somebody else maintains. A device that is backed up in the cloud will not lose information if the device is destroyed.
- The cloud lets users freely share and access data at any time, from anywhere, including from any device. This allows sharing with other people as well as across your own devices. The differences in what you can share and what that experience is like for users varies among providers.
- Data in the cloud looks like it is stored on your device. But the data in the cloud takes up a tiny fraction of the space that would actually be required. People with storage limitations on their devices can continue to use them by offloading some data to the cloud.
Weaknesses of Cloud Storage:
- Security – Handing data off to a cloud storage provider poses some security and privacy concerns. It is extremely rare that this actually exposes personal cloud data, although beaches do happen. There are many ways to use cloud storage in a secure fashion. Creating strong unique passwords and limiting the sharing of files help keep your cloud account private.
- Users may not realize that there is only one copy of data, and it is in the cloud. People delete what they think are extra copies, when in fact they are deleting the only copy.
- Losing the password to the cloud storage can in rare cases lock one out of that content forever. This is why people need to make sure they have as many backup identifiers as possible.
- Compliances – In some regulated areas such as medical information, it is difficult to rely on another company to store sensitive data. For anyone who handles other people’s private data, a choice of cloud storage is exponentially more serious.
- Speed – With fast Internet and cellular data, cloud storage has achieved quick download and upload speeds. It is still a little slower than local device storage, but usually not noticeable.
- Cloud storage is generally only available with an Internet connection. This connection can be WiFi, wired or cellular, but is the only way to access cloud storage. If the client is offline, or if the storage provider is offline, then access is impossible. Some cloud storage providers copy the most used documents on the computer. These offline documents sync when changes are made and the Internet is accessible again. The reliability of the cloud provider comes into play when choosing among the options.
We hope you understand better what you should you know about cloud storage. If you have additional questions, please email or call. We would be happy to talk about it further with you. Every person’s needs are a little different. You will want to take your own usage into account when you make your choices. If you have specific questions, or if our terminology isn’t clear, please use our contact form to send us a message. Thank you!