What is cloud data storage?

Cloud Storage
Cloud Storage

In the last few years, cloud data storages went from unsuitable for personal use and expensive way of data storing to quite affordable and effective tool for addressing such challenges. So, now even normal users inquiring a lot about this matter: “What is cloud data storage?”.

This article is a basic article, where you can find the main conventional wisdom’s for each user. Therefore, if you already know about cloud data storage, so you can safely take the information from the other articles. But I suggest you read at least “diagonally”.

Apart from several obvious benefits kind of “all your data will always be with you” cloud data storages have a number of shortcomings and problems. I hope that this article will help you broaden your horizons in the way of effective using of modern IT-technologies of which cloud data storages can be classified as one.

What is cloud data storage?
It’s pretty basic here: there is some organization which distributes a free space on their servers anyone who wants it (free of charge, may incur a charge or shareware). So, you can put there your files and you can access these files from anywhere.

This organization also creates additional servers for their cloud data storage users. This option distinguishes cloud storage from web-hosting, for example. Such services would allow you a simplified access to your data from the computer or mobile device, to raise the level of data secure, implement automatic data synchronization between different computers and other user’s devices, provide general or limited access to your data.

Also, you should remember that cloud data storage – is not your PC. It belongs to some organization and at certain point can be “turned off”. So, you shouldn’t download some important files here, because you can lose these data.

You shouldn’t store your personal information in the cloud. For example, your bath photos, email passwords, credit card number or PIN-code etc. There are a few chances that your personal data would be in public access in the future. All your data, which can affect you (now or in the future) not supposed just to store in a cloud storage (however, the same we can say about the Internet). So, how to place the information – is the other issue.

Working principle of each cloud storage.
Special client software must be installed on all your devices to use cloud storage and, furthermore, you would specify your PC folders which will be placed in the “cloud”. This program will copy specified folders and files to the cloud storage and will monitor the changes in these folders, where this software is currently running.

While editing or deleting file in a monitored folder, also adding a new file/folder, the program will automatically add the same changes in the cloud storage. The same actions will happen in reverse order: if in the cloud there are some changes, these changes will applied on your PC as well.

Thus, at connection to cloud storage multiple computers or other devices, you will get an actual set of your data on each device. So, you can edit file on your PC then open this file on laptop and its version would be the latest (modified by you).

In addition, with automatic synchronization via cloud storage, some errors can occur, related to the operation of the software or human factor. To minimize such issues you should use cloud storage which holds the history of data editing.

And most importantly, don’t forget to wait for full file synchronization before shutting down a PC. Also, you should remember that new data from the cloud would not appear on the server immediately because it often took some time for data synchronization. That’s why an effective using of cloud storages requires a fast and unlimited network connection!

Who doesn’t need cloud storages?
The main benefit of using such storage is in that case if you are using more than one personal computer.

For example, I have a work computer, two home computers and few devices on Android. Cloud data storages enable you to get the same actual set of files on all those devices.

For this purpose, I used a portable USB hard drive earlier. But this approach has some significant drawbacks: a low level of automation and a high probability of data damaging on this storage media (which was eventually happened). In addition, it was a lack of USB power for the hard drive and it was not possible to connect to the laptop.

But if you have only one PC, anyway there is some useful way to use cloud storage for you: simply creating of backups for some important files.

Types of cloud storages.
I’m not going to do the review of popular cloud storages; you can always find more actual information on this matter on the Internet. I just want to highlight the main choice criteria of cloud storage.

How to choose the right cloud storage
While choosing cloud storage I suggest you keep your attention on the following factors:

The size of provided storage. Well, it’s simple, the more the better. Nowadays you can get from 10 to 15 Gb of cloud space (free of charge) from all the web-services. It’s quite enough for specific purposes, but not for all. I will consider this issue later in more details.
The owner of cloud storage. It’s obviously that the cloud from Google or Microsoft would “live” longer than the same service from a little-known company. But you should notice that IT-giants can easily away from supporting their products. In a typical example – closure of Google Reader.
An opportunity of chargeable extension of available storage space. It’s better if it’s possible. You can become dependent on cloud storage, so in the future, you will need to buy some additional (hundreds) megabytes. But you should compare the prices before all actions because it can be significantly differ.
The existence of software for OS.

There are must be software for all your devices with different OS – for laptop, desktops and other. And this software should also work properly – check it out.
The existence of software for mobile devices.
The presence of “hidden” restrictions. Some cloud storages have restrictions not only on available disk space, but on the size of uploaded file (Box, for instance), on number of files in the folders (4Sync, for instance), or provide extended disk quota only temporarily (Wuala, for instance).
Maintain history of file changes. This is a very important feature for cloud storage. If you are going to place here your important and constantly changing files, this feature would help you to restore your file when failures at the server occur. Anyway, each server has some failures…
User’s data protection. Some cloud storages don’t protect your data, but for other services this function is general. Anyway, you must protect your data by yourself.

Even if you will understand that you have chosen the incorrect cloud storage, you can easily choose another. But remember that in this case on each your computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone, you have to re-install and configure software for the new cloud storage. Therefore, it is better to try to choose the most suitable option in advance…

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