Cloud storage is an easy and convenient way to keep electronic data backed up, synced between computers and even accessible on mobile devices. It s also a very inexpensive storage solution. After all the hype, though, many people are left wondering, How safe is the cloud?
How It Works
Cloud storage is quite straightforward. A host company operates and protects servers (usually in several locations) on a data network to which you can securely upload your data. You essentially lease the storage capacity from the host company for a fee, although many companies provide a limited amount of free storage. If you sync your PC with your cloud storage, then your data will upload automatically, which makes the process remarkably simple and a great way to back up your files on a continuous basis. Once uploaded, your files are easily accessible from your computer or mobile device (using login credentials, for example a password or security questions). The host company is responsible for your data s security, so be sure to choose one with strong security measures.
The Pros and Cons of Cloud Storage
When deciding whether to embrace the cloud for your electronic file backup, consider these pros and cons:
- Pro: Ease of use. Most cloud storage services are very easy to set up and have useful preview settings so that you can easily navigate through the files you ve uploaded.
- Con: Size limits. Some programs, especially the free versions, limit the allowable file size. For example, the free version of Box does not allow you to upload files larger than 250GB.
- Pro: File sharing. Your uploaded data is easy to share with other people, because you can simply send a link they can use to access a file. You can even allow people to edit shared files.
- Pro: Privacy and security. Although the level varies from service to service, cloud backup and storage services provide privacy safeguards keep your files secure.
- Con: Tiered capacity. The more storage you want, the more you ll have to pay. Also, some services, such as Carbonite, require you to pay for a year at a time; other services, such as Dropbox, allow you to pay month to month.
Based on your priorities, you should be able to find a cloud storage service to meet your needs. If you value a large amount of free storage or a highly secure service, there are options available for you. Just make sure to do your research first!
Make the Cloud Safer
Privacy features, built-in security measures and safeguards keep your data secure 24/7 in the cloud. Almost all cloud storage programs have a degree of security, although some are better than others. Carbonite, CrashPlan and IDrive backup all have security encryption ranging from 128-bit to 448-bit, and they all let you manage your own encryption key. Make sure to choose an encrypted service and one with a reputation for strong security.
You may have heard news stories about the breached cloud storage of various celebrities, which resulted in personal and private photographs being leaked to the public. If you adhere to reasonable security standards, though, you should not have any problems. Choose a complex password, set your browser not to save passwords or log you in automatically, and change your password regularly. Don t share your login information with anyone. Host companies build their cloud solutions with security in mind, so your information should be safe as you choose to make it.