Pros and Cons of Cloud Storage Back
In this post we discuss the pros and cons of cloud storage. ‘Cloud’ storage refers to data residing on a removable storage device and accessed via a server. Cloud data storage is classed as 'infrastructure as a service'. Cloud storage has well and truly hit the mainstream and it is now used by many consumers. Cloud storage has many advantages over traditional document box storage and we see no reason why your business should not be using it too!
Below we list pros and cons of this not-so-new technology.
Advantage #1: Disaster Recovery (DR)
When you use cloud storage, data is at a reduced risk of system failure since all data is stored and backed-up on an external devise often thousands of miles away from your own location. This means you avoid expensive data retrieval that follows an all-too-common hard-drive malfunctioning. Cloud providers automate the backup process for you. Therefore there is no need to back-up your data on an external devise yourself. You save time and stress as a result.
Advantage #2: Access your data anywhere
Since your data is stored remotely you can access it whether you are in Manchester or Madrid. This is especially helpful if your work requires frequent travel or if your team is located in different time-zones.
Cloud-storage also helps the collaborative process when your team is spread out across the globe. Cloud storage makes it easy for employees to login and access other team members’ work regardless of location and distance that separates team members. When you use cloud storage you’re not restricted by place or medium and your employees are able to work from home or abroad as a result.
Advantage #3: Low cost
Cloud storage eliminates the need to pay for software licences and updates since all this is included in one global monthly price. Cloud storage also avoids the need to invest in expensive server infrastructure since the cloud company provides this off-site for you. You eliminate the need to pay a dedicated storage professional in-house since you are effectively outsourcing this to the cloud storage company. Unlike in-house employees, you do not need to pay the cloud storage company sick-pay or holiday pay.
Advantage #4: Scalability
You only pay for the amount of storage you need. If your business experiences growth, the cloud operator is able to accommodate your corresponding growth in data storage needs. You simply extend the amount of available storage by varying how much you pay. Likewise, if your business shrinks, you can then opt for less storage space at a reduced rate.
Scalable payment plans such as 'pay as you go' are commonly available. Thus cloud storage caters for all business sizes and needs.
Advantage #5: Security
Professional cloud storage firms typically offer far better data security than is otherwise available to small businesses through efforts of their own. Cloud storage companies offer password protected data storage. Data is then sent over the internet using encryption technology. This ensures the highest standards of security are upheld.
Now we look at some of the cons of cloud storage
Disadvantage #1: Lack of total control
Since data is held offsite by a company you do not control, you lack the ability to control and customise your data storage set-up. This likely to be an issue for larger businesses who have complex storage needs. This typically requires a level of customisation that cloud data storage companies are unfortunately unable to accommodate.
Disadvantage #2: Difficult to migrate
Once you’ve signed up and started using one particular cloud storage provider, it is difficult to migrate data to another cloud provider later on.
This is a phenomenon known as 'vendor lock-in'. Vendor lock-in is particularly a problem for medium-to-large size businesses who store massive amounts of data with one cloud provider. If you run into problems with that provider it may be problematic to switch to another provider due to the sheer size of data and related complexities of making a move.
Disadvantage #3: Requires Internet
If your Internet connection fails, so does your access to remotely stored data. Internet failure thus leads to costly downtime when your business heavily relies on cloud storage. Furthermore if your Internet connection is slow you will need to wait a long time in order to access your remotely stored data.
No cloud provider offers an outage free service. By way of example, in 2014 ‘Dropbox’, a major cloud storage provider experienced an outage lasting two days. This caused a lot of inconvenience for many of Dropbox’s customers.
Disadvantage 4: Security and privacy have been an issue
Cloud storage means handing over the control of confidential information to a third party company. Before you transfer data to a cloud storage provider you must have utter faith this company is capable of keeping your data secure. In the past things have been known to go wrong with cloud storage companies. For instance, during 2014 Dropbox leaked its customers’ confidential data because of a security glitch in its systems. Leaked data included tax returns and mortgage applications. In the US, the National Security Agency, a governmental intelligence organisation, is known to snoop on data held by cloud storage companies. In 2014, Codespace – a major cloud data storage company – closed down completely after a hacker deleted all of its customers' data. Another example is 'Celebgate'. This occurred during 2014 when a hacker leaked celebrities’ photos from Apple's i-Cloud service.
Disadvantage 5: Fixed contracts can be a problem
Some cloud storage suppliers may try to fix you into a long term contract. This may be disadvantageous if your data storage needs reduce meaning you must now pay for storage you're not even using.
Whilst cloud storage does pose potential security threats and may not be suited to all business needs, we feel the benefits of cloud storage far out-way the potential costs. Cloud storage is certainly here to stay and something most businesses should consider using.