A good question! I mean… you’ve probably heard or seen something like ‘into the cloud’ or another slogan that doesn’t even remotely give you an idea of what it is. So what is cloud storage?
Cloud storage is a technology that allows you to store data on remote and secure servers, rather than computer hard drives that you manage. At least, that’s the simplest definition I know of.
Remember when we used to store data on floppy diskettes? For the most part, that’s all gone now! Many people that were born in the early 2000s don’t even know what a floppy is. Today we’ve got plenty of data storage options such as CDs, USB sticks, SD cards, flash, and disk drives among others.
The ‘cloud’ refers to an ensemble or collection of servers that act as hosts for information that’s accessible/retrievable from any capable device with an Internet connection. Essentially, you can access/edit/delete your data from any online device, similar to email.
And like your email, you don’t see the storage devices, nor do you have to worry about risk management. It isn’t like owning a CD-ROM or the hard drive on your desktop. Even if your computer breaks, your data will still be safely stored in the cloud.
If this is enough information for you to proceed with cloud storage service, then get started here. Otherwise, keep reading. We’re about to get a bit more technical.
In truth, cloud storage is a business model that relies on the Internet to help you access and share data across various devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets. Your information is typically stored in a third party center and by simply logging into a user interface, you can access all of it quickly. Examples of cloud storage solutions include Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive.
Types of Cloud Storage
There are three types of cloud storage setups and these are private, public and hybrid. For a business, a managed services provider/consultant can help you identify the most optimal IT strategy.
Great for companies but not individuals. As the name implies, this is a private cloud network that can either be on or off-premises. When off-premise, the server or storage devices are stored with a cloud service provider.
When on-premise, servers are stored within a company’s building. Although this is much easier to manage and control in an event that issues arise, it’s best suited for large organizations that want full control of their security and management setups or a small home-based business that deals in sensitive data.
With this kind of setup, there’s no need to worry about the maintenance and security of your data because everything is externalized. For an individual or organization, the public cloud is easier to have because they require little input.
3. Hybrid Clouds
This combines both private and public cloud features. Essentially, some information can be shared publicly and others privately. For instance, a company may share certain info with human resources (HR) that aren’t readily available to other employees who access the same cloud network.
Advantages of Cloud Storage
Adopting cloud storage can be beneficial because of the ease of use it provides and how it simplifies many day-to-day tasks for people like accounting, payroll and employee management. But let’s look at a few more.
Cloud storage services can reduce operating expenses and that’s a big win for any organization. The cost of this technology is extremely low right now and you can get up to 100GB of space monthly for the price of a coffee at Tim Hortons.
Much like how emails have made our lives easier with instantaneous delivery, cloud storage is another big relief! You can store everything on your cloud, travel thousands of miles and be able to access it from anywhere with an Internet connection. Sweet, huh?
This is one of the best advantages of cloud storage: Redundancy! Normally, your files are stored in several hard drives that are within multiple servers. The idea is to duplicate critical components so that if one server fails, another one will instantly take its place.
In fact, I write this article knowing that if my computer crashed for whatever reason, the document is safe. There’s always backups upon backups of your data, which makes recovery painless.
If you make changes to any document on the cloud, all devices connected to it will sync, meaning that your file would reflect the same change on all connected machines.
Every competent cloud storage provider has extra levels of security to ensure that your data is secure and doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. However, depending on the nature of your work, an on-premise private cloud network may be preferred.
Cloud Storage Pricing
Cost for cloud storage services varies a lot depending on what your needs are such as security, hard drive space, setup, etc. The investment for cloud storage can range between $20 to $500 per year for individuals and very small businesses. Larger organizations will have more needs so prices are often in the $1000+ range.
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