What is Cloud storage and can you trust it?

Cloud storage is the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store data rather than a local server or a personal computer.

15 June 2015

What is Cloud storage and can you trust it?

What is Cloud storage?

Cloud storage is the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store data rather than a local server or a personal computer. 

Traditionally backing up data has be done locally using DVDs, USB sticks, external hard drive or another part of the local drive but increasing cloud storage is becoming more and more popular.  The idea of storing all your precious data in the cloud is a scary thought and there are a few criteria that must be considered before you can decide if Cloud storage is right for you.

Can you trust cloud storage?

Whether or not you can "trust" the cloud often depends completely on what data you’re storing and what type of service you are using.  The table below shows the most common types of data individuals wish to store and if Cloud or local storage is appropriate;

 

Cloud Computing

Local storage

Family photos & videos

Yes, if you wish to share, there is a large amount of data to store and you’re accessing remotely.

Yes if you wish to create a backup copy.

Everyday office data

Yes if you wish to share or work remotely.

Yes if you wish to create a backup.

Data with security requirements

Potential security issues. Check provider security.

Yes but external device must be encrypted.

Highly secure data

Not secure enough for your needs.

Yes but external device must be encrypted.

If you are working with data that has certain types of security requirements, no, you probably can't "trust" the cloud. Certain government organisations or businesses have policies that restrict them from using software that interact with a public cloud.  Major cloud suppliers such as Google, Amazon or Rackpack store their data outside the UK and this means the data regulations may differ, (such as in the U.S were it may be possible for the U.S government to look at your information through the Patriot Act).

Cloud computing providers

You probably don’t realise your already using a cloud based storage service, like Dropbox.  Most major cloud services including Google and Dropbox offer a level of security and encryption for data.

Here we sum up the best of the free cloud storage providers; 

Cloud storage provider

Free Data storage

Cost

Encryption

OneDrive (MS Office365 account)

15GB

1TB with full installed Office.

PFS encryption

Google Drive

15GB

100GB free for two years if you buy a Chromebook.

AES-128 bit encryption

Amazon Cloud Drive

5GB

20GB - £6/year

Encrypted using SSL

Box

10GB

100GB - £3.50/month

Content security and Management with paid subscription

Apple iCloud

5GB

$0.99/month

Encrypted in transit and on the server

LiveDrive

Free trial unlimited 1 PC

£3/month

Encryption between desktop & Server.

Dropbox

2GB

Pro - 1TB £8 per month

Cipher encryption for transit and destination.

You should also consider the risks of sending data to the cloud, can it be sent in an encrypted state, like the latest LiveData software. You data may well be safe in the cloud but upload unencrypted data may leave you vulnerable.

Can you trust yourself?

If cloud storage accounts are compromised, the only people that suffer are those that create weak passwords, neglect the job of protecting them and allow access to their accounts.  Regardless of the trustworthiness of the cloud, it makes sense to do your part in keeping your passwords secure, strong and different.

Avoid putting your eggs all in one basket

Cloud technology is happening all around us, whether we embrace it, is just a matter of time.  As the technology moves forward in the years to come security will no longer be a concern surrounding the adoption of cloud technology, these hurdles would have been overcome and something new will be of concern. Knowing the limitations of your cloud storage service before you start uploading is vital.  Choose your provider to compliment your data, the best solution if you’re not completely convinced is to replicate data stored locally on an external hard drive as well as on the cloud.

No matter what your situation, backing up your information is vital for protecting your data, you should ALWAYS have a second form of back up.  CTS provides online back via the LiveDrive application.

 

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