Cloud Storage Strengths and Weaknesses?

PART VIII ON THE NETPRAETOR.COM OVERVIEW OF THE NINE MAIN CATEGORIES OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY WHICH HAVE THE MOST IMPACT ON END USER DATA PRIVACY AND DATA SECURITY THROUGH DAILY USE.

What Is Cloud Storage

If you’re someone who needs remote access to files without having access to your local storage systems, then chances are good a cloud storage solution can be right for you. 

Setup properly, cloud storage provides you with the the ability to easily access and share files remotely without having direct access to the local storage device. 

This ease of access and flexibility can provide you with time savings through quick accessibility on any device and redundancy through off-site backups and syncing among multiple devices.

As with anything and especially related to information technology that houses sensitive personal information, cloud storage strengths and weaknesses must be considered. 

Starting with the bad news first I’ll go over cloud storage weaknesses, of which some are more important than others and can be deal breakers for use. 

Cloud Storage Weaknesses

I. Cost

Without a doubt, when it comes to cloud storage you get what you pay for. Simply, a quality cloud storage solution is going to come with additional costs in one form or another whether that be monetary or trading your data.

As I mentioned in my other post talking about Virtual Private Networks (VPN’s), buyer beware when it comes to any information technology device, application, or service advertised as free. 

99% of the time that so called free service is free because you are agreeing to give up your data when accepting their terms and conditions. 

Whether paying for cloud storage with your currency or your data, taking a close look at the costs charged by any cloud storage provider is essential. 

The monetary costs of quality cloud storage which respects end-user privacy can add up quickly if you are uploading and downloading large volumes of files to and from the cloud frequently. 

II. Internet connectivity 

Easy access to your data can quickly come to an end if no internet connection is readily available. Cloud storage strengths and weaknesses are predominately dependent on the availability of a reliable internet connection. 

If the internet connection is good then large files can be accessed efficiently. If the internet connection is bad or non-existent then you could be cutoff from your critical files at inopertune times. 

III. Support and Data Security 

Cloud storage providers are not known to provide the best customer service and support. For example, in some cases it can be by design due to the employment of end-to-end encryption. Without access to the encryption keys a cloud storage provider simply can’t provide support to data it cannot access. In those cases the responsibility of file maintenance and recovery is shifted to the customer.

If you’re reading this blog chances are good you care about the privacy and security of your data. If that’s the case then the potential issues posed by end-to-end encryption are actually a good thing and can be mitigated if the right steps are taken when you choose to employ it. 

Rather than gambling with the grey area of wondering who is responsible for making sure your files in cloud storage are secure, why not take ownership and accept the stewardship of managing your own data?

Cloud Storage Strengths

I. Costs 

Cost is tied to both cloud storage strengths and weaknesses. As noted above the monetary and privacy costs of cloud storage can be a major weakness. 

However, with the cost of purchasing suitable quality physical storage rather expensive, especially for large volumes of files, reduced monetary cost of cloud storage can be less expensive per gigabyte or terabyte than using external drives and other storage solutions. 

II. Accessibility

In addition to monetary cost savings over physical file storage, cloud storage provides access to your files from anywhere an internet connection is available.

Imagine getting pulled over for accidentally rolling past a stop sign. Thats already a position you don’t want to be in, however making matters worse you realize you left your wallet with drivers license at home. Not only have you failed to stop at a stop sign, now you’re driving without your license. 

Given that most people are more likely to leave a wallet or purse at home than their smart phone these days, if you happen to keep a scanned copy of your drivers license syncd in the cloud you could at least produce a copy of your drivers license via the cloud storage application and hopefully mitigate additional problems.

III. Recovery

An additional benefit of storing important files in the cloud is redundancy and the ability to recover important files in the event of a hard drive or device failure. Files stored in the cloud are backed up and reduce the risk of physical storage failure.

IV. Syncing Devices

The best cloud storage providers will do more than just protect your data at rest in the cloud with end-to-end encryption, they will protect your data in transit as you upload and download files with end-to-end encryption as well. In addition to that, a great cloud storage provider will allow for an option that synchronizes your files across multiple devices. 

The way syncing works is when you make changes to a file on one device, it will then automatically cascade those changes through the cloud to all the other linked devices as well. 

For example, going back to the drivers license scenario above, let’s say you finally made a decision to store a copy of your drivers license in the cloud the day you go for a drive and roll through a stop sign, thus getting pulled over. 

If you uploaded your drivers license to your cloud provider from your MacBook Pro prior to leaving the house that day and your settings were configured to automatically sync with the application on your iPhone, its that syncing ability which allowed you to access your drivers license copy later that when you got pulled over and realized your wallet was at home. 

That example is just one of the many benefits of syncing files through cloud storage. 

V. Security

Not all cloud storage providers are created equal. The best cloud storage providers carefully weigh cloud storage strengths and weaknesses and will enhance the strengths while reducing the weaknesses. 

Only the best cloud storage providers add additional layers of security to their services. Again circling back to the drivers license scenario above, you would only want to store sensitive documents like a drivers license on a platform offering the best security with zero-knowledge end-to-end encryption. 

Ensuring that your files can only be accessed by you or individuals you designate is best achieved by only using cloud storage offering zero-knowledge end-to-end encryption. This will help to prevent your files being accessed by someone you didn’t authorize. 

Cloud Storage Strengths and Weaknesses?

Having reviewed the main elements of cloud storage strengths and weaknesses here are the three cloud storage solutions earning a NETPRAETOR thumbs up broken down by best use case. 

Large volumes of data to back up with end-to-end encryption

iDrive

Daily use for maximum compatibility with Microsoft Office suite

OneDrive

Daily use for best security with end-to-end encryption

Tresorit 

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