In a world where data security is of the highest importance and back-up is becoming ever more essential, when a computer hard drive fails beyond repair it can be an absolute nightmare trying to recoup files you once had. For years, the single best way any individual or business could protect themselves from data loss was to back up all files periodically on either a personal server or external HDD, of which numerous products such as the WD MyPassport came to market in order to personalize the experience for consumers.
Now in 2012 however the single best way for any individual or company to back up files is through an online storage service, often referred to as ‘cloud storage’. Cloud computing refers to using a third party network of remote servers to store and manage data on. Essentially, Cloud storage is a means of storing files externally rather than locally, with numerous benefits over the latter. Now more than ever, cloud storage is incredibly affordable, reliable and convenient, and it is for this reason that all of the top business and technology companies in the world utilize cloud computing to its full potential.
Your own hard drive in the sky
It is true to note that cloud storage can be thought of as one big hard drive. When you store files through cloud computing, your files are stored on a physical server located somewhere in the world. You can’t pick where your files will be, however they will all be fully accessible whenever you need them. This might raise a few eyebrows from consumers worried about their data however do not fret, because cloud storage is just as secure as standard computing and hosting.
Cloud computing is extremely convenient for businesses and individuals alike. The ability to go from London to New York without a single physical storage device on your person and access all your files from any internet capable machine is truly amazing. It is from this point of view that cloud computing is a near essential service all businesses should have too, because colleagues would never forget any documentation or lose files indefinitely again, leaving boardroom headaches at the door.
Cloud computing and business
Businesses across the UK are now beginning to seriously look at cloud computing and storage to integrate as part of their business growth strategy. Cloud computing allows business employees and directors to work from practically anywhere so long as they have access to a computer. Cloud computing is proving to be one of many business growth solutions which shows no sign of slowing down or decreasing its momentum. From small online companies to large blue chip firms, cloud computing is a lucrative opportunity to say the least.
What to look for in a cloud storage plan
If you have read this full article then chances are that you are looking to take up cloud computing for the obvious benefits over local storage it offers. If that is the case then before you jump at one specific service here are some pointers you should take in to consideration:
Features – a good cloud storage service should allow you to store all types of file and format, from text documents to video. What’s more, some cloud services are adopting email, contact and calendar support too.
Storage – if you save files predominantly in the kb or juts a few mb occasionally, then you don’t have to worry about storage all that much. In general, and in that situation, a 25GB plan will set you up for a long time.
Pricing – pricing for storage should always be relative to the features and storage a plan offers. If for example a 10GB plan costs more than a 25GB plan from another company which offers more features, the 10GB plan is simply not worth it.
Mobile support – if you are a consumer looking for cloud storage, mobile integration is important. Thankfully, there are some great services with apps around (jump to recommendations below).
Support – no matter what service you use, occasionally support may needed. In that case, it is best to try to find a reputable company with a proven track record for customer service.
As always and with any service product, we recommend you hit up reviews of cloud storage services online before you buy one up. If features, pricing and support look way too good to be true, check out our recommendations for cloud storage companies for our top picks.
Cloud storage recommendations?
If you are on the hunt for cloud storage, we recommend you hit up the following companies based on worldwide reputation and also hands on experience:
DropBox – a great Android and iPhone app along with excellent support and file compatibility. Perfect for consumers or work at home individuals alike.
MediaFire – get 50GB free storage at MediaFire with a file upload limit of 200MB. This service is highly recommended, offering great features and support.
Egnyte – a fairly unique cloud service offering ‘HybridCloud’. Includes traditional synchronisation and a rather clever file server service.
Google Drive – full Google Docs integration plus 5GB free storage. This service has recieved excellent expert reviews across the internet.
Microsoft Skydrive – store your whole computer contents on Microsoft SkyDrive, with excellent support from MS. Perfect for business.
Box.com – this cloud service features an amazing domain name, but more importantly great pricing and service, as well as excellent customer reviews.
SugarSync -a cloud storage service a lot like DropBox, but not as well known. Excellent features and support for consumers / personal users.
iCloud – iCloud is Apple’s very own cloud storage service, which iOS users will know very well. You need an Apple ID to get started, however the service is solid for iOS devices.
OpenDrive - this isn’t our favourite service, due to capping on file sizes, and no unlimited plan. It is a trusted brand however, and is a reliable service.
We recommend you visit each of the websites above (all links to official sites, click the company name) in order to find an ideal cloud storage provider for you. Everybody has different requirements, and so even if your friend uses one service, a different service may be more up your alley.
Cloud storage has become in the past 3 years a fundamental service for businesses internationally. The ability to have constant access to files any time has completely revolutionised the way in which data gets backed up.
For consumers, cloud storage is a dream come true. If you own a HTC Android smartphone for example all of your photo’s and video’s get uploaded to DropBox ensuring that if you decide to throw your phone off a skyscraper, all of your precious moments will stay in tact and be completely accessible online.
All in all, and if you do not use cloud storage yet, we recommend you seriously consider it; after all, what would you do without your files?
I am going to finish this article with a video which explains exactly what cloud computing is in simple terms. I spent a lot of time looking for the ideal video, so I hope it explains to anybody looking for information on cloud computing what this service really means visually. Enjoy!