What is Cloud Storage?

Cloud storage is a way for businesses and consumers to save data securely online to be accessed anytime from any location and easily shared with granted permission. Cloud storage also offers a way to back up data to facilitate recovery off-site.

Today, individuals can access several free cloud computing services, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box, with upgraded subscription packages offering larger storage sizes and additional cloud services.

Cloud Storage Explained

Cloud storage offers a simple way to securely and safely store and/or move data securely and safely. It allows individuals and businesses to store their files with the cloud services provider for on-demand access on any device. Cloud storage can also archive data that requires long-term storage but does not need to be accessed frequently, such as certain financial records. Increasingly, files stored “in the cloud” are utilized for group collaboration.

Cloud storage allows a client’s computer, tablet, or smartphone to send and retrieve files online to and from a remote data server. The same data is usually stored on multiple servers simultaneously, so clients can access their data even if one server is down or loses data. For example, a laptop computer owner might store personal photos on her hard drive and in the cloud if the laptop is stolen.

A cloud storage system can specialize in storing a particular type of data, such as digital photos or music files, or provide general storage of any kind of data, such as photos, audio files, text documents, presentations, and spreadsheets.

Cloud storage is believed to have been invented by computer scientist Dr Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider in the 1960s. About two decades later, CompuServe began offering its customers small amounts of disk space to store some of their files. In the mid-1990s, AT&T launched the first all-web-based storage service for personal and business communication. Since then, several different services have become gained traction.

Some popular cloud storage providers

How Cloud Storage Benefits Businesses

Cloud storage helps businesses with major data storage needs to save significant space and money by eliminating the need for data storage infrastructure on business premises. The cloud storage provider owns and maintains all the necessary hardware and software, so the cloud users don’t have to. Further, businesses can instantly scale up or down how much cloud storage they can access as their storage needs change. Purchasing ongoing cloud storage may cost more in the long run, but it can be significantly less expensive upfront.

The cloud also enables employees to collaborate with colleagues—and work remotely and outside of regular business hours—while facilitating smooth document collaboration by allowing authorized employees easy access to the most updated file version. At the personal level, cloud storage allows mobile data and enables digital life in the holistic way we live today. Without the cloud, smartphones would not be able to be the interface of so much data ( photos, documents, information on the go). Using the cloud to store files can also positively affect the environment since it cuts down energy consumption.

Cloud Storage Security

There is so much attention on cloud storage today in the digital era because so much of our sensitive personal data is stored in the cloud, whether we voluntarily store it there or whether a company we do business with decides to store it there. As a result, cloud security has become a major concern. Users wonder whether their information is safe, and increasing data breaches have demonstrated that sometimes it isn’t. Users are also concerned about whether the data they have stored on the cloud will be accessible when needed.

While cloud storage may seem vulnerable due to the prevalence of hacking, the alternatives, such as onsite storage, have security vulnerabilities, too. Company-provided cloud storage can improve security by giving employees an alternative to using their personal accounts to back up and transfer files they need to access outside the office.

A good cloud storage provider will have data redundancy, storing the same files in multiple physical locations to survive human errors, equipment failures, or natural disasters. A reputable provider will also store and transmit data securely so no one can access it without permission. Some users might also require that data be stored so that it can only be read but not changed; this feature is also available through cloud storage.

(Credit: Investopedia.com)

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