In today’s increasingly mobile world more people and businesses are starting to use cloud storage so that they can access their data from almost anywhere. Unlike traditional storage options that require users to be connected to the hardware housing their data, cloud storage allows the user to upload their data to a remote server and access it from anywhere with an internet connection. This is extremely efficient for users who travel a lot or for businesses that need to share data, but complications arise with cloud storage. Popular cloud storage systems are run by giants like Google, Apple, and Amazon, and when users sign up for their services they relinquish a lot of control of their data which is certainly something to be worried about.
This year has not been particularly kind to cloud storage as some of the industry leaders have had crashes that have impacted millions of users. These crashes garnered massive amounts of media attention that questioned the reliability and safety of keeping data on a cloud. Most notably, Amazon’s servers crashed in April and brought down thousands of sites, including Reddit, for a number of days. Individuals were also unable to access their information and in some cases lost their information as well. This is annoying for regular visitors to sites, but it also adds up to lost revenue for the site owners. In a recent PCWorld article, it is quoted that over $70 million has been lost due to cloud server downtime. Any downtime is a major problem for businesses who need their sites live 24/7 to generate revenue. Cloud servers are also a huge target for hackers as they are a honeypot of information. While the big companies have great security, the occasional instance does occur much more than your information can be compromised. Check out this post by Mat Honan who experienced these problems first hand when a hacker snuck into his accounts via iCloud. The hacker was able to lock him out of his email, twitter, and remotely wiped all of his Apple products.
Users get into hot water when they use cloud storage as their main or only form of backing up their information. When this happens people are at the mercy of the cloud, and if something was to happen they have no way to access their data. The best way to remedy this is to backup files regularly with local measures as well. This could be more expensive and time consuming, but losing data could be much more than simply backing up locally.
No one knows when the next crash might happen, but the recent ones have it in the forefront of many people’s minds. The co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak has recently stated his nervousness about the mass move to cloud computing and storage. His concerns are that users give up their rights and control to their data when they sign agreements to use cloud services. He stated that backing up locally does not protect your control of the data when it is on a cloud. This is a good point to be raised and it will be very interesting to see how users approach cloud computing in the near future as it continues to expand.
Even with server crashes and downtime, the uptime for cloud servers is still open 99.9% of the time. This makes it very reliable, but precautions should still be taken as unique issues can arise. Backing up locally is a major step to help protect data while still enjoying the benefits of cloud storage.
- Cloud Storage – Benefits and Risks (encryptedfilestorage.com)