Are Cloud Services For You?

Can You Benefit From Cloud Storage?

Not many people are aware that what we call today cloud storage roots as far back as 2005. Mechanical Turk in 2005, Google Apps in 2006 and GitHub in 2008 were the forerunners of the cloud computing.
Cloud storage is surely gaining its popularity but at the same time, rightly or not, raises many concerns relating to its security as well as general data privacy, accessibility and copyright issues.
In a few simple words, cloud storage is an internet storage that doesn’t require from the user to store data locally but lets him access it remotely from different devices or even places. It could mean any data storage accessible over the internet such as email services (like Gmail), file storage services (like Dropbox), photo galleries (like Flickr) and so on.

Cloud Services Usage

The popularity of cloud services is on the rise

A poll conducted by a large provider of a cost management tools for cloud services looked at their data from 3200 clients, based in 80 countries. Their conclusion was that 86% of companies use more than one cloud-based service, usually ‘hosting and computing services’, followed closely by ‘storage needs’ (Cloud H Q).

Cloud storage has been gaining popularity for a while now, but at the same time, it has also raised many concerns relating to its security and general data privacy, accessibility and copyright issues.

But what makes cloud storage services so increasingly popular? Let’s have a look.

1. Advantages

There are many reasons why companies and individuals choose cloud services. The most popular reasons are for the backup capabilities, ease of use, high accessibility, especially for collaboration purposes and the possibility of sharing large files.

If you regularly share files (documents, images) or if a lot of people at your company work on the same data, then cloud services can save you a lot of hassle and time. This type of storage sorts the problem of overriding the latest changes made by other users and provides a much more user-friendly way to send documents to others.

In the case of natural disasters, fires, etc. cloud storage seems like an appropriate insurance for all the data that may get damaged. On top of that, it cuts the cost of hardware and excessive storage usage because it is very adaptable in its nature, taking less space than computers or large file cabinets. It can also sync multiple devices/users and is very often more secure than local storage options. Plus, a lot of the time you would only ever pay for the storage space that is the most appropriate for you, and if you need more, you can easily upgrade.

So far so good, but are there any downfalls?

2. Safety Concerns

Some may say that cloud storage systems are not very secure. You can find some examples of vulnerable systems, such as Apple iCloud being hacked. The reality is that even though it is not perfect, cloud storage is one of the safest storage options available today. It uses sophisticated encryption methods to secure data, which in the majority of cases is guarded better than on your local computer.

If we look closer, it turns out that iCloud servers weren’t technically hacked, but accessed via weak ends of their password system. In other words, the passwords and security questions were guessed. Naturally, incidents like that can be easily prevented with some care taken by the owners of their accounts. It’s always wise not to use the same password for everything, and to use additional signs and numbers. You could even use a password generator if you are struggling with ideas.

Security Passwords

Be responsible for your own security and choose passwords and security questions carefully

Apparently, lost data is a bigger concern than security. Some preventive measures can deal with that issue. You need a reliable provider, so do your research first (check online forums, etc.) and remember that since the service is remote, you are not limited to your local companies. Using cloud storage with a third party system as a sharing platform, or backup if you like, is also a good idea because it helps to eliminate data losses.

Don’t forget to familiarise yourself with copyright and privacy laws in the place where your provider operates, as they may be different to what you expect or are familiar with.

Privacy and copyright can be an issue in some cases, particularly with free services. Is your data only stored, or is it used for advertising and marketing purposes? Check it beforehand.
A very controversial issue is whether data stored on cloud servers should be accessible to government bodies. If you are bothered by it, check which companies grant access and on which terms as some of them are more protective towards the customers data than others. There is a website called ‘Who Has Your Back’ where you can find information about how different companies help to protect your data. However, this is an American website, and we use it here as the reference to the general attitudes of the companies towards the requests, not the detailed information about the laws here in the UK (more on that here and here ) . You may find that some cloud software is created in a way that only allows for encryption keys to be generated by the users so that the data can not be physically accessed by providers even if they wanted to or were forced to do so.

3. Conclusion

More and more companies are finding that the benefits of using cloud storage, or other cloud services, outweigh the risks. It doesn’t look like this trend is going to change. The technology is developing, everything is becoming more secure, less data is being lost and a lot of day to day tasks are being made cheaper and easier. There are always opponents to everything but hopefully, after reading our post, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether cloud storage is the right option for you and your business.

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