Floppy disks, flash drives, and USB sticks have had their day. Why? Because cloud storage has come along to completely reshape the way we store data.
Chances are, you’ve heard of “the cloud?” But what does storing data on the cloud actually mean? Is it safe? And how easy is it to store your data on the cloud? In this piece, we’ll answer all these questions and walk you through setting up your own cloud storage.
We all need a space to store things. In our homes, we have shelves, cupboards, and drawers, etc. Well, with computer data, storage works the same way. It needs a space, called hard disc drives (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD), where we can store it.
Previously, we simply saved data directly on the internal storage devices of our computer, smartphone, or tablet. But now we use so much data - just think of all the apps, programs, games, and media files on your devices - that this storage space is oftentimes not big enough anymore. Basically, we run out of “shelf space”.
Of course, we could just “declutter” and remove any data we might not need anymore to create some extra space. But sooner or later, we’d face the same problem again. We could also buy external hard drives to have more space, but these can be inconvenient as they require us to physically connect them with our devices via a cable every time we want to access data. And god-forbid if the external hard drives storing our precious data like family photos, videos and so on ever got stolen, damaged, or lost. So what’s the real solution? Cloud storage!
Cloud storage is like a massive, virtual lock 'n' store space that’s open 24/7 and lets you store and access files online from anywhere. To be more precise, it’s a service where data is stored via the internet on physical computer servers that are located in huge remote, high-security data centers. Since, as end-users, we can’t really see where exactly these data centers are, we simply use the abstract word “cloud” to describe the space where the data is saved.
The best thing? The storage space in the cloud is pretty much limitless. So you can easily and instantly upgrade to extend your available space whenever you want.
Chances are, you’ve already been using cloud technology without even realizing it. In fact, if you’ve ever sent an email, you’ve used a form of cloud storage!
First, you sign up for a cloud platform (see next section). This can be done using any device – a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. The cloud can then also be set up and accessed using all of these devices.
You’ll also need to choose a plan. Most platforms offer either free storage up to a certain amount or a free trial for a certain period of time. Paid options are also not expensive though. In fact, they will cost you much less than your Netflix subscription, assuming that you’re fine with a couple of terabytes of storage - which would be enough to store 34,000 hours of music, over 600,000 photos, or 1,000 HD-quality movies. Regardless of whether you go with a free or paid option, once you’ve signed up and logged in, you can upload any file to the cloud.
Besides pure cloud storage providers, there are also several organizations that offer cloud-based services. For instance, Gmail – a free email service that stores your emails in the cloud.
Another example is Google Drive which comes with several integrated programs, like Google Docs. You can access it through your email account to then create documents online, instead of on your computer’s internal storage space. So, you can write a document that automatically saves to the cloud as you’re typing and you can share it with other people, all without having to actually install any software on your computer.
There are countless cloud storage providers, with most of them usually offering free storage space up to a certain threshold. Here are some of the most popular ones:
Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks to cloud storage:
Since your data is stored in high-tech, high-security data centers that run multiple backups and monitoring regularly, your data is much safer in the cloud than on your device at home. Granted, there is a potential security risk when using the cloud – though it has less to do with the cloud storage provider and mostly stems from how we use the cloud. So here’s what you can do to ensure your cloud-based files have an extra layer of security:
Say goodbye to running out of storage space on your smartphone, camera, or laptop. With cloud storage, you can always easily add more space to your device with just a few clicks whenever you want. It is thanks to this convenience, and the increased layer of security, why cloud storage is expected to become the key storage medium in the near future. And, with so much data out there in the world, local storage just cannot keep up.
So whether you’re using it to collaborate with co-workers, as a vault for precious family memories, or anything in between, cloud storage is the way to go.
Need help setting up your cloud storage account? Contact a Buddy today!