The way we store things is changing, and more and more of us are looking towards cloud hosting as an alternative.
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Finding data storage space is always an issue for avid computer users. There are different ways people invest in to keep their data freed up; using larger internal or external hard drives, USB sticks, CDs & DVDs are some of the more popular ways to do this. However, the way we store things is changing – people are growing weary of using physical means of storing digital data and are looking towards the ‘clouds’ as an online alternative.
The cloud provides an off-site storage system for your digital data needs. Using an internet connection, users can upload any kind of data files to a remote database – however big or small the file may be. There are some great advantages with this kind of storage. Using the cloud you do not have to cart hard drives and CDs around with you – as all the information is online is always accessible from wherever you go (providing you have access to an internet connection). Businesses also look to the Cloud as a great way of storing all of their data upon. Yet, is Cloud storage the answer to all our data storing issues? Or, is there a storm brewing within these digital clouds to be slightly wary of?
Of course, this new way of storing data comes with a just amount of scepticism – even though Cloud storage has been around us for plenty of time now in different forms. YouTube, Gmail, Facebook and Flickr (amongst many others) rely upon an element of cloud storage to operate. Thousands of terabytes are stored every single day by different companies using cloud technology, but will it be enough to fill demand? Or on the flipside in the future, will the cloud run out of digital space – the catalyst for an almighty net crash.
Cloud systems need to be maintained, to be looked after constantly. If a storage facility is seen to be failure-prone then people will definitely ask questions – for they might lose all their data. On top of this, if a company is seen to be having trouble financially, people will see it is as a direct threat to their stored data; the company goes under, and so does their files. How most cloud systems address this issue is through a thing called ‘redundancy’. Redundancy is fundamentally transferring the stored data to multiple platforms so that if one machine crashes, the data could still be accessed by another. But, if the whole system was to come crashing down in entirety – clients worldwide would be scuppered.
Security is a big issue for the Cloud – a lot of money is injected into it to keep things safe. To secure digital data online there needs to be three things in place; encryption (consisting of advanced algorithms), authentication (the common username and password) and authorization (levels of access within a company). The biggest worry is that the machines which actually store the data are in fact pretty vulnerable – physically and digitally. A hacker could in fact go to the direct hub of machines to steal the files of important companies, or break his way in online and remove them. Upset employees also pose a threat to a company whilst using the cloud – for they might corrupt the data on the system as a sign of protest.
This year Amazon didn’t have the best of luck; twice during a month their East Coast Cloud crashed due to a thunderstorm knocking out their power, rendering many home users helpless as well as many companies. Online businesses really suffered, including Instagram, Pinterest and Netflix who all had their data stored on Amazon’s servers. To make things worse, other cloud services that were operational in the East Coast area had not been at all affected – making Amazon look rather stupid. Amazon does not host its data on different infrastructures, operating from a single one. This raises some eyebrows as to the future of single vendor cloud based infrastructures. In conclusion, cloud storage is in fact becoming more and more popular as a convenient way to store endless amounts of data. But, keep your wits about you – research and make sure the specific cloud service that you invest in is the right one for you; otherwise you may be looking at your data being left in the dark.