Over the last few years, we’ve been steadily moving away from local systems to the cloud for storing and processing our data. In this article, Cloudwards.net is going to take a good look at why this is such a good idea. Take movies, for example; we no longer play them from hard drives.
Rather, we stream them over the Internet through providers like Netflix and it’s not just movies that are moving to the cloud, but also personal and enterprise applications.
Thanks to this trend, the cloud is one of the hottest computing growth markets today, and it’s changing the way we live and communicate as a society.
It has a significant impact on businesses too, thanks to factors such as:
- The ever-increasing volumes of data
- The changing attitude of employees
- The growing preferences of customers
Given the changing world around us, it makes sense to know more about cloud storage and how you can benefit from it.
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What is Cloud Storage?
Cloud storage refers to the online space where you can store data.
This online space resides across multiple remote servers housed inside massive data centers, built on virtualization technology, which means that storage space spans across different servers and possibly even multiple locations.
But, as a user, it’s only a single unit that you can access at any time. These servers are owned, maintained and operated by third-party companies, which may or may not charge a fee for using them.
The most important features of cloud storage are:
- A service provided by an external provider
- All data is stored outside of your network
- It can be accessed over the Internet or through built-in synchronization tools
- Data can be accessed from any device and location by authorized users
- It is based on virtualization technology
Because of all these features, sharing data with others is easier than ever, and you can even work with multiple people online, making it perfect for our globalized world.
Let’s take a more distinct look at the upsides of cloud storage.
Benefits of Cloud Storage for Businesses
Once you start using the cloud to store a company’s data, these are some of the benefits you’ll reap within a few days.
1. No Maintenance
Many companies, regardless of their size, prefer to store data inside in-house servers and data centers.
While this approach isn’t a bad option as such, it nevertheless comes with additional overhead.
Servers require constant maintenance, and this means that the company has to employ a large IT staff to manage them, which is a costly proposition. Thanks to cloud storage, businesses can save a lot of money on maintenance since their servers are now under the control of third-party providers.
Instead, they can focus resources on the core aspects of their business, without worrying about an IT staff or its massive budgets.
2. Greater Flexibility
Today’s employees want to have a better work-life balance and this goal can be best achieved through letting them telecommute.
According to this survey, 79% of respondents already work outside of their office some of the time, while another 60% would switch jobs if offered this flexibility.
Cloud storage services like Google Drive offer exactly this kind of flexibility for employees.
With data stored online, it’s easy for employees to log into a cloud portal, work on the data they need to and log off when they’re done. It also makes them work more efficiently, saving entrepreneurs money.
3. Better Collaboration and Communication
In today’s business environment, it’s common practice for employees to collaborate and communicate with co-workers located around the world.
For example, they may have to work on the same client proposal together or provide feedback on training documents.
These products allow users to access the latest versions of any document, so they can stay on top changes, which can help businesses to better manage their work flow, regardless of geographical location or spread.
4. Data Protection
Another important reason to move to the cloud is for better protection of your data, especially in the event of a natural disaster.
For example, Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on data centers in New York City, forcing many websites to shut down their operations for days. It’s best to move data to the cloud, to avoid such disruptions because there your data will be stored in multiple locations.
This redundancy makes it so that, even if one area is affected, your operations don’t have to suffer and data remains accessible no matter what happens — it’s a system called de-duplication.
5. Lower Overhead
We’ve mentioned it before, but the cloud can save businesses a lot of money.
Setting up an in-house data center requires thousands of dollars in investment, and that’s not to mention the maintenance costs it carries. By outsourcing data storage to cloud providers, businesses save on capital and maintenance costs, money which in turn can be used to expand the business.
Plus, considering the security, reduced lag, up time and controlled environments that providers like AWS have, creating an in-house data center seems like sheer madness in 2017.
Benefits of Cloud Storage For Individuals
It’s not just businesses that are using cloud storage; individuals are also using the cloud to store their data in a safe and secure location. In fact, a report by Statista shows that by 2017, more than 1.8 billion people will be using personal cloud storage.
And it’s easy to see why.
Thanks to the use of advanced security features to protect your data, the cloud is virtually the safest place to keep files, not counting a fully encrypted local HDD, of course.
This is why you can store anything, even passwords, in the cloud without worry.
There are even password management tools like 1Password that help maintain a ton of passwords for different sites securely.
The obvious advantage of storing them in the cloud is they are independent from devices, allowing you to log in from anywhere. In addition, most cloud providers protect you from the NSA’s surveillance policies, providing greater privacy.
2. Protecting Data
Just like businesses, private citizens may encounter data loss, except in their case it’s hard drives that usually give out, or their smartphone gets stolen.
Cloud storage is an excellent way to protect yourself against data emergencies, by allowing you to access data from another device if the primary one gets lost or stolen, and you can change passwords without worry.
Here at Cloudwards.net, we can’t overstate the importance of having redundant copies of data stored in the cloud somewhere. There are plenty of backup services to choose from, and we recommend that anyone and everyone take advantage of these providers.
Digitally sharing files is quick and easy, thanks to the cloud, all that you have to do is simply upload files and share them with your friends and family.
SugarSync, for example, is a cool app that syncs files across different devices, so showing your friends that nice picture you took is a matter of a single button press.
Better yet, the cloud provides a way to share files securely, by applying viewing, editing or commenting permissions. It can also share files that are encrypted.
A big benefit of cloud storage for individuals is the extra space one gets on the local machine when you move all images, documents and videos to the cloud.
You also don’t have to spend much money on computers with big hard drives. Online storage is an economical alternative to buying external HDDs, as well as being safer overall, especially if you’re a security novice.
There are so many cloud storage providers out there, with just a tiny bit of research, finding one that fits you correctly is a cinch, as a matter of fact, why not start here?
In short, cloud storage has many advantages for both individuals and businesses. Though there are some downsides, the benefits of cloud storage far outweigh them, and this is most evident by the rapid pace at which everyone is moving their data to the cloud.
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Many reports have confirmed this and predict that the cloud storage market will grow to $3.5 billion by 2020, marking an enormous annual growth rate of 31%. Billions of people and thousands of companies are opting for online storage because it’s comfortable, convenient, secure and economical.
Are you also ready to make the most of what cloud storage offers? If so, share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.