Cloud data storage has become very popular, but it can feel weird to send your precious data away from home, so to speak. However, there is only so much storage on your personal or work computer, and everything can vanish in an instant when that machine fails.
Using a reliable cloud storage provider is actually a very safe alternative to losing your data, and is also way more convenient than constantly backing everything up to an external hard drive.
There are plenty of reasons to take the leap and start using cloud storage. We have collected a few of the big ones, but first, we’ll look at what exactly cloud storage is and what it does.
Cloud Storage Explained
Simply put, the cloud is just a series of servers that house information. Various companies own those servers and rent the space on them to customers. When you buy a cloud storage plan, your data may actually end up spread out over many different servers, but is still accessible to you through one user interface.
Through the years, cloud storage has begun to offer more specialized services to meet the specific needs of individuals and businesses. Cloud storage is the most general term that simply means the data is stored yet easily accessible.
- Cloud sync – This service allows you to designate certain types of files, such as photos, to be synced. There is some initial setup involved, but there is no need for you to manually upload everything.
- Cloud backup – When you don’t want to worry about manually backing up your computer to an external hard drive, this service will upload all files to comprise a full backup of any device that’s linked to the cloud storage account (provided you have purchased enough space).
- Unlimited cloud storage – Space can be a concern in terms of cloud storage, just as on your computer’s hard drive. If you want to make sure that all your home or office computers are fully backed up at all times, look for an unlimited storage plan.
These are minor distinctions, but it’s important to assess your needs and expectations before signing up for a cloud storage plan. You’ll want to be sure you have enough space and that the interface is designed to support your goals.
Now let’s look at some reasons to take the leap sooner rather than later.
The average laptop computer is only good for about 3-5 years, so you will go through quite a few of them during your lifetime. In some cases, you will notice that your computer is slowing down, struggling to perform without overheating, or can no longer be updated. In others, the thing just up and dies with little warning.
But no matter how it happens, having your files and photos backed up to the cloud makes recovery a lot easier. You can access the files from any device with an internet connection, anywhere in the world at any time. When you’re ready to set up a new computer, simply pull down the few items you need to have on your hard drive and leave the rest where they are.
Everyone needs to keep their data secure and protected. There is no 100% safe storage option, even under your mattress at home. However, cloud storage services go to great lengths to protect their users’ data.
Most cloud service providers encrypt data during transit and storage. Users may go further to encrypt their own data before upload, but that’s not typically necessary for the average person. Still, for businesses that hold personal and financial data about their customers, this step can help protect everyone.
Granted, cloud storage represents an additional monthly cost. Some products offer a certain amount of storage for free while others charge right out of the gate. But cloud space is still pretty affordable, starting as low as $1/month for personal plans. Businesses will obviously pay more for the large amount of storage needed.
Any way you look at it, the cost of cloud storage is considerably less than the expense of hiring someone to retrieve data from a failed hard drive. That service can be extremely costly and doesn’t always work. The hard number behind cloud storage is also way less than the emotional toll of losing years’ worth of family pictures or the ongoing frustration of missing financial data.
Just like on your personal computer’s hard drive, you can create folders within your cloud storage account to keep it all organized. You can also decide what is to be stored there and what stays strictly local.
Many people choose to have everything automatically sync to the cloud so that they are fully protected in the case of equipment failure. But it’s also a useful strategy to upload only those things that you’re done working with so that your computer stays clutter-free.
You may also want to send only photos to the cloud, or only documents that you’ll need to share eventually. The important thing is that you can customize your cloud storage so that it works for you. However, if you choose to limit the type of files that go into the cloud, be sure to back everything else up in another way.
Ease of Sharing
And finally, we’ve mentioned that the cloud is great for retrieving lost files or downloading existing content to a new computer. This same function also makes it an important tool for file sharing. Because you can log into your cloud account from any internet-enabled device, never again will you show up at a meeting and have to admit that the documents you need are “on my other laptop.”
Most cloud services support direct downloads, sharing via email, and granting access to specific users. You stay in control of who can see and manipulate your files, but don’t have to worry about how to get important info to the people who need it.
Are you ready to jump in to cloud storage? Take some time to research available providers and plans, making sure that your data will be properly protected and that you’ll have enough space. Then go ahead and try it. We bet you’ll quickly wonder how you managed without it.