If you’ve been on the internet recently, you’ve probably heard of the “cloud” by now and used it, too, whether you know it or not. Everything on the internet is hosted in the cloud, from your email provider, to video platforms like Netflix and YouTube, to plain old cloud storage like Dropbox. In this article, we’ll explain all the benefits of cloud storage and how it might benefit you or your business.
- A cloud storage service has many benefits over traditional physical storage methods, including more accessible data storage.
- Using the cloud, you can easily share files and collaborate with others.
- The only true disadvantage of cloud storage is that you need to be online to use it.
Cloud storage is an integral part of the cloud computing sphere, and it’s arguably what thrust the cloud into the mainstream when Dropbox first launched. Keep reading to find out all of the cloud storage advantages (and disadvantages).
Cloudwards completed a full rewrite of the advantages and disadvantages of using cloud storage.
Cloud storage is a lot more flexible over other forms of portable storage because you never have to carry an extra device. You can access it from anywhere with an internet connection.
It can, but so can your computer. Cloud services themselves very rarely see successful attacks, so any vulnerability would be on the part of the end user and how secure they can keep their account.
We suggest keeping a backup of your data to the cloud, but having a physical copy of your data, as well as your cloud version, is always best.
The Benefits of Cloud Storage & Its Disadvantages
- Backup your data to the cloud
- No more external hard drives
- Remotely update & sync your files
- Share files easily
- Remote work made easy
- Keep your files encrypted
- Storage for a lifetime
- You need an internet connection
- Extra storage space comes at a cost
- Security & privacy concerns with some providers
Cloud Storage Services & Cloud Computing: How It Works
Before we go into all the benefits of using cloud storage, let’s quickly go over how it works. When you upload a file to a cloud storage service, it gets saved on a remote computer called a “server.”
You can access these servers from anywhere in the world via the internet. This means that your file is no longer tied to your device, and you can access it from any device, anywhere in the world.
Obviously this brings with it a host of advantages (as well as some minor disadvantages), which we’ll go over in detail in the list below.
Advantages of Cloud Services
Here are some of the biggest advantages of using cloud storage.
1. Backup Your Data to the Cloud
If you’ve ever had a hard drive die on you, you’re familiar with the pandemonium it can cause, especially if you’re an at-home worker. Not only do you have to get it replaced, but your data might be gone for good.
Some data might be salvageable via a very pricey restoration service, although those aren’t always capable of recovering your data, and usually at least some of it will be gone for good. Or an even worse scenario: you lose your phone or laptop. Now there’s no way of getting your data back at all.
That’s where cloud storage comes in. Keeping your data backed up to the cloud is the only way you can make sure it stays safe and easily accessible. Even better, cloud storage providers that keep multiple versions of your files stored in the cloud are the best suited for disaster recovery.
2. No More External Hard Drives
Like the laptop before it, the cloud brings a new level of portability for your data. However, with cloud storage, you don’t have to lug around a laptop, USB stick or external hard drive. Portability is built into the cloud, with all your data available to you wherever you can log in to your cloud account.
3. Remotely Update and Sync Your Files
If you make a change to a file that’s on your computer and want to update the file on another computer, you’ll have to manually copy the file over to that device. On the other hand, updating a cloud file means the file now looks the same to everyone accessing it on every device.
Plus, most cloud services have a feature called “synchronization,” or just “sync.” To use sync, you usually need to download a cloud app called a “sync client” and log in. If you have the sync client installed on multiple devices, it will sync your files instantly across every device, which means you don’t have to manually upload or download anything.
Some services, like pCloud and Icedrive, even offer so-called “network drives” that allow you to access your files without syncing them, saving you precious hard drive space.
4. Share Files Easily
One of the best things about cloud storage is just how easy file sharing is. If your files are already in the cloud, you don’t need to upload them to a file transfer service or even send an email. You can just find the file in your cloud account and hit “share.” Usually you’ll get a link that you can paste wherever you want, and the recipient will be able to download or view your file.
If easy file sharing is what you need, you can check out our list of the best cloud storage services for sharing, where Sync.com comes out on top (take a look at our Sync.com review, too).
5. Remote Work Made Easy
Cloud technology is essentially what makes remote work possible in the first place. Without remote access to your work files, you’re stuck moving back and forth between the office, which defeats the purpose of remote working.
However, since the cloud leaves all your cloud files at your disposal wherever you are, it’s easy to pick up where you left off when you get back home. Just open your cloud account, and all the files you worked on in the office are right there. Head over to our best cloud storage for collaboration list if you need a cloud service for remote work.
We have also tested and compiled a list of the best cloud storage for large files if you work with a number of creative assets such as raw image formats, audio and video files.
6. Keep Your Files Encrypted
A lot of people are scared of the internet and think their files are safer just staying offline. However, that’s not the case. If your files are only stored locally on your device, it makes them susceptible to hackers who can get into your computer and hold your data for ransom. Not to mention all the various hardware issues that could cause you to lose your data permanently.
Keeping your files in the cloud is simply the smarter thing to do. Luckily most cloud services offer encryption for your files. Encryption is a process that scrambles your files into a string of unreadable code, which is only readable using an encryption key. One flaw is that if you store your files with an untrustworthy operator, the operator can decrypt and access your files.
However, that’s not the case if you use a zero-knowledge cloud service. Zero-knowledge encryption is a type of encryption where you’re the only person holding the encryption key. The encryption happens on your device before the files are even sent to the cloud service, which means you’re the only one who’ll ever be able to view them.
7. Storage for a Lifetime
When you use an online service, making a long-term commitment always pays off. That’s especially true with something you don’t want to change frequently, like cloud storage.
Thankfully several cloud solutions offer lifetime plans. A lifetime plan lets you make a one-time purchase for a certain amount of storage and use that storage forever. The cost savings are usually greater than monthly or even yearly plans.
Unfortunately lifetime plans are few and far between. Icedrive and pCloud — two services we already mentioned — are the only services whose lifetime plans we’d recommend. You can see our pCloud review and Icedrive review for more details.
Disadvantages of Cloud Storage
Of course, as with everything in life, cloud storage comes with some negatives, though they are minor (or expected) ones.
1. You Need an Internet Connection
To use the cloud, you need to be connected to the internet. Sure you can sync your files to access them even when you’re offline, but actually accessing the cloud absolutely requires an internet connection.
2. Extra Storage Space Comes at a Cost
This isn’t really surprising, as very few online services are fully free. Although most cloud storage services offer some amount of free storage, like MEGA’s enormous 20GB free plan, that’s about as much as you’ll ever get for free. Luckily, some services offer a wealth of cloud storage features at a low price, like Sync.com, which tops our list of the best cloud storage deals.
3. Security and Privacy Concerns With Some Providers
People often fall into the trap of a cloud service offering hundreds of gigabytes of storage for free. Then they mysteriously start getting spammed with fishy-looking emails (or should we say “phishy”?), or their data just vanishes from the service. It happens more often than you’d think and puts people off even trustworthy cloud storage solutions.
However, security and privacy concerns aren’t just for scam websites and sketchy startups. Large corporations like Microsoft and Google offer cloud storage solutions. Both companies are infamous for the amount of data they collect from users, so using the cloud services from either comes with an inherent risk of Google or Microsoft employees being able to access your data.
However, this isn’t the case with zero-knowledge services like Sync.com and pCloud. They offer solid cloud security, which is why we always recommend these secure cloud services above the rest.
That’s it for this guide to cloud storage benefits. We hope we managed to convince you to at least give cloud storage a try. Overall the advantages of cloud storage far outweigh any negatives, especially if you use one of the best cloud storage services. Be sure to read our cloud storage vs online backup guide to learn how the services differ.
What are your thoughts on cloud storage? What do you use cloud storage for? Let us know in the comments below. As always, thank you for reading.