Cloud storage (also known as file sharing service, file hosting service or backup storage) is a widely used technology today. It is integrated in certain operating systems like Windows 10, Windows 8.1 etc and it is also available separately to consumers free of charge or after paying monthly quarterly or yearly fee.
Cloud storage is the part of cloud computing. If you have shared something over internet after uploading it to any online storage service, you have utilized a part of diverse cloud computing. Like other technologies, cloud technology is also getting advanced with the passage of time. Now, many corporations offer exclusive features with their cloud storage to their consumers like the facility to create documents, presentations, drawings or spreadsheets online and directly sharing them with people. Many of these companies also offer free applications to install on mobile phones or computer and utilize the cloud storage directly without going to their websites.
No matter what advantages or benefits cloud storage offers, it has numerous disadvantages especially when people use it as a primary or basic storage for storing their important stuff like documents, photographs, camera recordings etc. If someone thinks that having a personal storage device like flash drives, SSDs or HDDs are not preferable when cloud is available, I would say he is making a big mistake. Come on, use some sense and think what you are doing. Every technology has its own charm but is that technology as equally beneficial as it should be? The answer could be yes or no. But in case of cloud storage, it is ‘No’.
I myself use cloud storage but not as a primary storage for the precious data which I do not want to lose ever. When I say precious data, for me it is ‘memories’ in the form of photographs, videos, my website files, digital books and documents which I store on my computer and keep a copy on an external hard drive as well to make sure I don’t lose them if my computer malfunctions or some malware wipe the internal memory. I know number of people who are “wise” enough to use cloud as their first and only storage and brag that there is no better alternative than this technology. I should say they do not understand the risks involved in that. I have pointed out some major disadvantages and drawbacks of cloud storage which one must consider before making some wrong choices which might result in unrecoverable losses.
1- Since, you do not own the data centers of corporations who offer cloud storage, you are not the one who sets the rules. Companies which govern this business can ban your account for any violation of their ‘terms of services’. When you have to store data at their provided storage, you have to abide by the rules imposed by them.
2- Cloud storage is not accessible without internet. No internet; no cloud storage. Think you are at a place where you do not even receive the phone signals. And you desperately need some files which you just uploaded to the cloud. Now, since you developed a bad habit of using only the cloud storage, how are you going to get those files? If you had made them available on some of your personally owned hardware then you would have those required files instantly available to you offline.
3- Cloud storage is slow because the internet could be slow. Slow in the sense when you compare it with the speed offered by hard drives or solid state drives. To protect the network and servers, cloud storage providers also limit the upload and download speed. Additionally your mobile internet might be slow too due to low coverage or peak hours. So, if you want to backup a very large file or several files and you have the internet connection which is capped or crawling slower than tortoise, think how much time it will take you to upload all that data, and doing that, you might also exhaust all of your internet volume allocated by your ISP. Also there is no guarantee that the files which you are uploading will get uploaded successfully or may get stuck at some point while uploading them and you may need to again start uploading from the beginning.
4- It is expensive when it comes to storing a lot of data. You will have to buy more space to store all your data because storage space which is offered free of charge by companies might not be enough for the ever increasing demands of digital files. The packages which are offered might be costly as compared to buying a personal storage hardware.
5- Cloud storage is open to the corporation who owns the servers of cloud computing. They can use your data without your consent for any purposes they want. You will be an easy prey of spying agencies if you have your data stored at cloud drive. Do you want greedy corporations understand your psyche and let them invade into your privacy?
6- With cloud, data is always vulnerable to loss. If you have free storage, companies do not guarantee that the data shall not be deleted after a certain period of time. Even if you have paid for the storage, still there is no guarantee that they will retain your data after your package plan has expired. You will always have to pay them to insure that your data remains safe.
7- If a company goes bankrupt or into the loss, you might lose your data as well. Similarly, if a natural disaster destroys the data centers and servers owned by the corporations and they do not have the backup facility at any other place around the world, chances are there that your stored data will also become the victim of that disaster.
8- Hacker can gain access to cloud storage if they get their hands on your password or if they invade into the network of cloud computing. This is the least but still possible scenario in which you can lose your data or your data gets leaked over internet. Companies try to make their networking software hackers proof but there are always brilliant minds out there who use their gifted skills for negative purposes.
So, this is my perspective about cloud technology. I shall always recommend to use it for the limited purposes like when you need some files instantly available for office use or if you want to share files with your friends and family over internet. If you are a webmaster running sites that offer downloadable contents then cloud storage well serves the purpose. But when the requirement is backing up the data or having a secure offline personal storage, portable hard drives, flash drives and portable SSDs are extremely handy and safe for that purpose. As two is always better than one, use two storage drives for backing up or storing the same data. If for some reason one drive fails or you lose that, you can always recover your data from the other one.
[This is an old post which I wrote in October 2013. Since then many cloud storage companies came and gone for good. May be they understood that people would buy a physical storage drive for much cheaper price instead of paying them a monthly or yearly fee to store their data which could be deleted anytime if they stop paying them or if their data violates terms of service]