First things first, not to disappoint you but cloud storage isn’t really a cloud. The reason it gets that name is because you don’t exactly know where the servers are that store your data and where they are located, like clouds. So, despite what you might have thought, it’s not as exciting as all of your files being stored on a cloud floating in the sky although, in layman’s terms they are very similar.
Cloud computing was invented by Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider in the 1960s and originally designed to connect people anywhere in the world. Cloud storage is a model of data storage in which the digital data is stored in multiple servers (and often locations), and the physical environment is typically owned and managed by a hosting company. These cloud storage providers are responsible for keeping the data accessible and more importantly safe.
What are the benefits over standard device storage or a USB drive?
- USB drives can easily be lost. The same with storing files on a computer, if something on your computer were to break you could lose all your files. (Especially bad if you have things like Bitcoin or other crypto-currencies stored on it.)
- Depending on which company you use, cloud storage can be very secure. Your files will not all be stored in one physical location, even though they can all be accessed through one login. Most cloud hosting providers use 3 or more servers and sometimes even in different countries. This avoids catastrophic loss of files if something were to happen in the data centre like a flood 0r fire.
- If your files are stored in ‘the cloud’ then most companies offer a sync service. For example, on Apple iCloud, Google Drive and Dropbox you can simply log in to your account on multiple devices. Then upload one file to your cloud on one device and it will sync to all of the other devices linked to the account.
- The same feature means that if you lose a device or it brakes, simply log in to your cloud account on another device and all of your files will be there where you left off. If you lost your mobile phone you can also remove the cloud access from it remotely to stop others being able to access it if they found your phone.
- We’ve all had the problem at some point; that annoying ‘File storage full’ error message on your computer or phone. With cloud storage everything is stored in a remote location, so there is no need to store anything directly on your devices.
- Maintenance such as increasing file storage if your cloud account becomes full is all managed by the company from which you purchase your cloud storage. So there is no need to worry about what to do if you run out of cloud storage space.
- Some companies provide free unlimited storage or a certain amount when you buy products that uses cloud storage, like Google pixel phones.
- This last one is surprising, but using cloud storage could potentially cut energy consumption by up to 70%. The reason being that for a computer to store lots of files it uses a lot more processing power, therefore using more energy. So 100 computers all connected to cloud storage will use a lot less energy than 100 office computers all storing 1000’s of files locally on their device storage. This benefit may not be noticed so much by individuals at home, but is definitely a benefit for large organisations with lots of computers.
If you haven’t already got cloud storage then it is certainly a great thing to look into. It saves a lot of hassle if you do ever need to get a new computer and transfer files over. Stay tuned for our latest post next week.