Cloud Storage 101: Why Use the Cloud?
In today’s digital era, businesses and individuals increasingly turn to cloud storage as a convenient and flexible solution for their data management needs. Cloud storage offers many benefits, such as easy access, scalability, and data redundancy.
In this blog, we will delve into the advantages and potential risks of cloud storage. We will explore how cloud storage can enhance data management, streamline workflows, and improve collaboration. Additionally, we will address some potential risks associated with security, privacy, and reliance on third-party service providers and explore how these risks are mitigated. By understanding the benefits and risks, you can make informed decisions when considering cloud storage solutions for your organization or personal use.
How does Cloud Storage work?
The “cloud” in cloud storage is a collection of remote storage locations and servers accessible through a secure internet connection. Instead of storing files on your computer’s hard drives, cloud storage works by storing your files on a remote server and then accessing them through a secure internet connection.
Your organization could create and maintain its own cloud server if it has the resources to do so. However, many organizations pay for cloud storage through one of the major cloud storage services, such as Google Drive, IDrive, Microsoft OneDrive, or Dropbox. In exchange for a monthly fee, these services will store your files on their servers for you, saving space on your individual computers and making it easier to share and collaborate.
Advantages of Cloud Storage
Unless your organization is large enough to build and maintain its own secure file repository, your digital security probably won’t be as good as a cloud storage provider’s security would be. Major providers use huge, centralized server banks that they have the resources to protect with the best physical and digital security measures available. Having a good reputation for security and reliability is a huge part of their business model, so they have a vested interest in keeping your information secure from outside attacks.
Though they’re really just made out of a collection of magnetic charges, digital files can actually be much more securely preserved than physical documents. This is because of how easy it is to duplicate digital files. While you could create and store your files’ duplicates (or backups) on your own hard drives, this can take up a huge amount of storage space.
Whether your organization pays for cloud storage through a service provider or maintains its own centralized cloud storage, having access to all the additional space cloud servers offer makes storing copies of the same digital file in multiple locations easier. Syncing features also allow teams to stay updated with each other’s changes while maintaining multiple redundant copies on each team member’s computer. If anything happens to one copy in one location, other copies can be used as a backup.
By storing a central master copy of a file on a cloud server, your team can collaborate on it live, seeing each other’s changes in real-time. Without live collaboration, each person’s edits must be made one at a time and then copied via email to each other, each newest copy becoming the new official draft.
This process can be very time-consuming and inconvenient, especially if the rest of the team needs to wait a long time for the person with the most current version of the file to pass it on. With live collaboration, your team members can each make the edits they need to make when it’s convenient for them.
Collaborating via cloud storage also allows access to a powerful suite of collaboration tools and features, like highlights and comments, edit suggestions, and edit tracking. Combined with a good internet connection, this centralization makes remote work easy and effective, improving the flexibility and resilience of your teams and your organization more broadly.
More Storage Space
This one is pretty obvious, but one of the major benefits of cloud storage through one of the big providers is simply that there is always more space available.
As your organization continues to do business, especially if you grow rapidly, you will eventually run out of digital storage and need to scale up. If your organization maintains its own digital storage system, scaling up can mean adding new hardware and software to handle the increased demands. These additions aren’t just expensive; they can sometimes take a while to set up, potentially delaying your scale-up.
However, scaling up your digital storage space is as simple as ticking a box and sometimes paying a slightly increased monthly fee when using a cloud storage provider.
Less to Worry About
Keeping all of your digital files stored on your own hardware means you’ll have to maintain that hardware, which takes up valuable time and energy for you or your employees. Cloud storage providers make keeping your files secure, organized, and available much easier, so you have more time to focus on your core business.
Unless your organization has the resources to match the security, capacity, and reliability of the major cloud storage providers, getting all of these features for a nominal monthly fee is well worth it.
Why should I trust cloud storage? What are the risks?
Though the idea of storing your important digital documents on another organization’s servers may feel uncomfortable, it’s actually a very low-risk option. To explain why, here are some of the possible risks involved in cloud storage and how they’re mitigated:
What if the storage provider gets hacked?
While it’s important to take cybersecurity risks seriously, cloud storage providers typically have the resources to protect your data with some of the best digital security measures available. These large companies’ business model is based on offering secure, reliable storage, so they go to great lengths to ensure that something like this never happens. Additionally, unless your organization is very large, the cloud storage provider likely has better security measures than your organization could afford to implement.
What if I lose internet access?
One of the only drawbacks of cloud storage is that means accessing your files will depend on the strength and reliability of your internet connection. Fortunately, internet connections have been getting faster and more reliable for years. At the same time, outages have been getting shorter and less frequent. Depending on where you work and where your organization is based, you should be able to access reliable, high-speed internet for a nominal fee.
If you have certain files that you can’t risk losing access to, even temporarily, these can be kept on one of your organization’s computers while backups and other documents are kept in the cloud. If you work in a place with unreliable internet access, cloud storage can still be a valuable tool for storing files that don’t need to be accessed regularly.
What if the storage provider’s servers get damaged?
While this is always possible, the storage provider’s servers being damaged by human error or natural disasters are both unlikely. The facilities where these servers are housed are usually protected by the best weatherproofing and internal climate controls that money can buy, and they typically aren’t built in areas prone to natural disasters.
More importantly, even if one of their server locations was somehow destroyed or damaged, most storage providers keep backup copies of every file in different locations around the world. While the damaged server is being repaired, you can still access your file backups from the other server as if nothing has changed. Once the damaged server is back up and running, your files will be backed up again.
Will the storage provider try to read or sell my organization’s data?
This is not likely for a few reasons. Firstly, there are regulations in most countries preventing the improper use of other people’s data, and accessing or selling the data you upload for the purposes of storage without your explicit consent would almost certainly qualify as improper use in any jurisdiction.
Second, storage providers make their money on their reputation for reliability and security, and files which are not kept secure from unauthorized access or use simply are not secure, whether the one’s accessing it are malicious third parties or the storage providers themselves.
Finally, while your data is obviously extremely important to you, it’s probably not that interesting to a storage provider. Compared with the hefty fines and substantial reputational damage from selling your data without permission, the meagre profit they’d make from doing so simply isn’t worth it.
What is hybrid storage? How does it work?
Hybrid storage involves the use of both HDDs and SSDs. An HDD (or Hard Disc Drive) has been the standard type of digital storage device for decades. They contain multiple spinning discs which are used to read and write data.
On the other hand, an SSD (or Solid State Drive) has no moving parts and uses magnetic charges to read and write data much faster than HDDs. However, that speed comes with increased cost, and although they’re slower, HDDs are still fast enough to work just fine for most purposes.
When you’re looking for a storage solution, what’s more important to you? Speed? Or storage space? If you want speed, you should look for a storage provider that uses SSDs, and if you want more space for the same cost, you should find a provider using HDDs.
But what if you need fast loading speeds for only some of your files but don’t want to pay the steep SSD premium for your entire collection? This is when you need a hybrid solution.
When building your own storage hardware system, you need to buy enough SSDs to store all the files you want to load quickly and then enough HDDs to store everything else. When setting up a hybrid storage solution with a cloud storage provider, all you have to do is let them know how much fast storage you’ll need and how much can be normal storage.
At some point in the future, you may want to increase or decrease the fast storage you can access. If you built and maintain your own in-house storage system, there’s no point in reducing your fast storage, even if you don’t need it all, because you already bought the SSDs. Increasing your fast storage would mean buying more, which is an expensive upfront cost.
However, if you use a cloud storage provider, they will almost always have more storage than you need, so you just have to ask them to increase it when you need more or decrease it when you want to cut back. Because the cost of cloud storage is ongoing, not upfront, you only pay what you need to.
Cloud Storage with Consentia
If you’re looking to leverage the benefits of digital systems and cloud storage for your physical files, then you need to digitize them first. As digitization experts, we can help you seamlessly transition your information into the digital world and help you manage your new digital documents once they’re created. For large collections, we can even build secure, customized cloud storage solutions for your organization.
Get in touch with us today to learn more! Our specialists would be happy to answer any questions you may have and provide a full consultation, and see how we can help you elevate your organization by enhancing your information management.