The terms "cloud" and "cloud storage" are ubiquitous with technology these days. Most people are familiar with iPhone's famous iCloud as well as other cloud-based storage options for data, such as DropBox. But what exactly is the cloud and how can it help your business?
According to tech site Mashable, "the cloud is not a physical thing... [it] is a network of servers, and each server has a different function." (Mashable) These functions include running an application or delivering a service, which allows you to access or store data over the Internet.
So, if the cloud is abstract, how does it save your data? The cloud allows you to store, manage, and back up data remotely. Because information is stored remotely, you can access it over the Internet, from anywhere using a computer, tablet, or smartphone. Beyond personal use, employing cloud-based storage for your business is a much larger endeavor.
There are many benefits of cloud storage, including * scaleability: use only what you need -- a lot or a little * cost savings: no need to buy your own hardware; pay for only what you use. * easy-access: cloud allows you to access data--that previously required a computer or physical server--over the Internet * automatic backup: program backups to occur as often as you need * less worry: hard drive crashes are no longer filled with terror since everything is already backed up
With so many obvious advantages, are there any cons to using cloud-based storage? The most common concerns about of cloud storage center around security. Since data is stored and managed by a third-party vendor, security breaches and cyber attacks are a real possibility. If security is your primary concern, be sure to thoroughly research and vet cloud storage providers before choosing one for your business. Some other sticking points include the need for a high-speed connection in order to back up large amounts of data, and the concern over costs. The pay-for-use scale can be a benefit or deterrent for companies depending on size, needs, and budget.
Overall, cloud-based storage is here and seems to be the future of data storage!