Cloud Storage – A Effective Smart Approach towards Data Storage and Protection
There was a time when materialistic things had the privilege to be called as an asset. With the passage of time, a lot of things changed and this change was reflected in the definition of asset too. With more and more inclusion of digital stuff in our life, data is now one of the most precious assets anyone holds.
It does not matter if this data is of personal nature or commercial. Wherever way data is used, a duty of care comes naturally. Now one may think that why there is this much emphasis on data security and privacy? Let’s understand this with the help of an example.
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Consider a situation where a small business is booming by leaps and bounds. It has been managing its inventory and customer data over the local storage space. But the probability that these storage mediums will remain sustainable and operational for the lifetime only occurs in an ideal condition. There can be any situation like a power surge or any hardware malfunctioning which may result in the permanent shutdown of the storage medium. If it does not happen, then what if storage vicinity is situated in the area which is prone to natural calamities like earthquake or tsunami? In either of these situations, data loss cannot be stopped.
However, such unfortunate incidents can be avoided by having a backup cloud storage service or having such a diversified storage plan that lets the users be accessible to their data, irrespective of any situation. What else can be handier and more reliable than cloud-based storage? With the employment of cloud services as either a primary or secondary storage medium, businesses or individuals can ace through any unfortunate incident.
With cloud or online storage, the users will always be in close contact with their data. Users will just need to be connected to the internet and all of their data files will be just a click away. So, irrespective of what happens, whether it’s the hardware malfunctioning, cyber-attack, accidental deletion or any natural calamity, data in the cloud will always remain safe and accessible. For the user’s convenience, the data stored in online storage can also be accessed via the desktop app and mobile app.
Basics of Cloud Storage
Cloud storage options are a growing trend. People used to save their data on either local storage of the system they are using or over compact disks or flash drives. But with the inception of cloud storage, the whole storage paradigm has taken an unimaginable shift. No one had ever thought that there will come a time where we won’t be needing any physical storage medium to store our data.
This is the reason a lot of people confuse it with some sort of meteorological term. But in reality, it refers to the process of saving data on some off-site storage systems. These off-site storage systems are generally managed by third-party vendors. Some of the popular cloud storage providers include iCloud Drive, Google Drive, OneDrive, Backup Everything, and Dropbox Business.
Here instead of storing the files and folders on the local computer, the user will be saving it on some remote database. Both, database and concerned system, will be connected via an internet connection.
Generally, cloud storage has a lot of benefits over traditional storage means. For example, besides providing unlimited storage options, the biggest advantage of cloud storage is that the users can make their data accessible to them and all this requires just an internet connection. No hassle to carry portal hard drives, flash drives or compact disks. Just an internet connection and you will be able to access your files. The list-long advantages of cloud storage do not stop here. Another advantage is the easy collaboration and file sharing. With cloud storage, the users can allow other peoples to share and access the data. Such collaborative efforts are very much helpful in turning any project to be a shining example of teamwork.
Working Mechanism of the Cloud Storage
After ascertaining the convenience and flexibility of the cloud storage, let’s get to know the working mechanism of the cloud storage. There are plenty of cloud storage systems that do differ in terms of functionality, but they all work under the same working principle. Some of the cloud storage systems are very much focused. For example, some cloud storage systems are dedicated only for storing e-mails or specific utilities such as Microsoft Office 365. Whereas other cloud storage systems are meant to store all types of digital data.
Depending on the functionality and service coverage, the scale of the cloud storage systems varies. They can be as small as one storage device, server, network and a computer. On the other hand, they can be as large as they can fill an entire warehouse with the equipment. The facilities that host cloud storage systems are known as data centers.
At a very basic level, cloud storage requires just a unit of data server, connected to the internet. A client, the one which has subscribed to the cloud storage service, sends the files to the concerned data server via an internet connection. The data server then records that information over its own storage systems.
Whenever a client wishes to retrieve that information, he or she can do so by accessing the web portal of the concerned cloud service after three or two factor authentication. Here server will send a command to either allow the client to access that file over the server or send that file to the client’s system for further manipulation.
That was the basic cloud storage system. But generally, the cloud storage network relies on the hundreds of the data servers. This is done to ensure data accessibility even in the case maintenance or repair of the network is going on. This practice of storing data on multiple machines is known as redundancy.
Redundancy is a vital consideration to make in any cloud network. In the absence of redundancy, the basic accessibility feature of the cloud cannot be enacted. Furthermore, redundancy is also achieved by powering the storage system from multiple sources. This is done to ensure that even if power fails, users won’t lose access to their data.
It must be noted that not everyone uses cloud storage as their primary storage medium or for storing their data just there. A lot of people use cloud storage as their secondary storage medium. This means that they use cloud storage for backing up their data. Cloud storage can be an excellent backup medium. It is so because cloud storage is an off-site storage medium and if something happens to the users’ data, even then they will be able to retrieve their data back.
Examples of Cloud Storage Usage
It is human nature that we tend to make our decision by reviews and seeing real-life examples. There are plenty of platforms, apps and utilities where traces of cloud storage are very much visible. Following are some of the real-life examples where one can see cloud storage brightening up our daily tasks and life:
- Everyone is familiar with Google Docs, where users can upload their documents, presentations and spreadsheets over Google’s data servers. Users can even edit these files there. Furthermore, Google Docs allows users to even publish these documents so that other people can read or edit them. Such an online presence clearly shows Google Docs to be cloud storage supported utility.
- There are plenty of e-mail service providers like Google, Yahoo, and Hotmail. They store e-mails on their data servers and not on the user’s device. Users will just need to connect to their server, and they can access their emails from anywhere in the world. All this is possible only due to cloud storage.
- Websites like Picasa and Flickr are the digital host of millions of photos, videos and other media files. Users can create, edit and publish their photo albums by uploading pictures on their servers. This makes them another real-life example of cloud storage.
- A lot of websites hosting companies such as GoDaddy, Hostmonster and StartLogic use cloud storage systems to store data and files of their clients.
- Social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace allow their users to post and view content. All this content is saved on their servers that are furthered centered across cloud storage.
With all these real-life examples, there is no doubt in saying that cloud storage has immense applications in our daily life. It has penetrated deep in our internet usage and is foreseen to go deeper. If tech giants are using it and if we are surrounded so much by the cloud storage, then what excuse do we have to not go for cloud storage? Cloud storage is the future and the future is of sustainable and compact solutions. Nothing except cloud storage can guarantee to comply with these future needs.
Concerns of the Cloud Storage
Nothing in this world is perfect, the same applies to cloud storage. Reliability and security are the two biggest concerns of cloud storage. Clients are not most likely to trust something that isn’t secure and when data is the thing to put on the stake, this concern increases manifold.
To lower the security vulnerabilities, cloud storage providers do employ a combination of the three counter techniques namely; encryption, authentication and authorization. In the encryption, they use a complex algorithm to encode the concerned data. To decode that data, the user will need to provide an encryption key. This encryption will be known by the user only and in this way, access is made restricted to a much greater extent.
They also use an authentication process where the user will be provided with the username and password to access his or her data. In the authorization, only those people who are authorized by the user will be able to access the data.
Even with these protective measures, it has still been seen that hackers were able to breach the cloud storage’s security. But service providers know of this concern and working tirelessly to update their security algorithms and make them unbreachable.
Another concern is the reliability of cloud storage. Cloud users don’t want to save their data over such a medium which makes their data, a liability instead of an asset. Although cloud storage companies are trying to cope up with this growing issue through redundancy techniques but still there exists a probability of system crash.
For a cloud storage solution to stand out, it is important that it should address these two concerns. Especially in the circumstances where competition is fierce and everyone is in a race to supersede others.
By going through the above discussion, there is no doubt in admitting the importance and relevance of the cloud storage in today’s paradigm. In today’s time of compact solutions, cloud storage has a staunch potential to reshape today’s and future storage needs.
By opting for the cloud storage, not only can users and businesses prepare for the future, but they will also be superseding their competitors in terms of making their storage systems smart, intelligent and flexible. In today’s growing trend of start-ups, only cloud storage can enable start-up aspirants to focus more on their business models rather than on their data centers.
Though there are two major concerns over the efficiency of cloud storage. But it should be noted that the rate of these deficiencies varies. It can be understood by referring to an example. Consider that company X provides 4Mbps internet connection with the uploading speed of 1Mbps and downloading speed of 4Mbps. On the other hand, Company Y offers the same package with the uploading speed of 2Mbps and a downloading speed of 4Mbps. In both of the cases, the service they are providing, the internet is not bad. Instead, the respective infrastructure is hindering service quality. The same applies here, cloud storage itself is a great thing to go for. However, the extent of issues may vary from company to company.