Cloud storage solutions for home and business have long been the popular norm for backing up important data. At home, online storage services provide a convenient way to share pictures, files, music and more between family members.
At the office, storing data in the cloud also allows employees to share files and information between them, while keeping transparent records readily available for review by employers.Even though backing up data with cloud storage has been a normal practice for some time, its recent surge in popularity has led to an even larger increase in services now available. This surge is not without its causes, whether logistical, systemic or literal. Virtual and home schooling has increased in 2020 due to a global pandemic keeping many people at home. Many employees also began working from home, as businesses had no choice but to adapt to pandemic regulations as a means of survival.
Systemically speaking, companies have followed the paths of peers and competitors alike, both of which saw improved workflows and increased profits. Finally, using online cloud storage solutions reduces physical waste and consumes fewer resources, making businesses more environmentally friendly.
There are many reasons to back up your important data with cloud storage. However, as with any new endeavor there are always questions. Are there drawbacks with this type of service, such as security risks? How do you know which services are best for you? Read on to learn about some of the most popular cloud storage solutions available today and which ones are best suited for your needs at home or in the office.
What is Cloud Storage?
Cloud storage can be simply defined as space online used to store personal or professional files and/or data. The cloud itself takes up no physical space but does require servers. Servers can be either physical hardware or software programs, which facilitate functionality for other hardware devices or software programs, which are referred to as “clients.” This client-server model essentially represents the process of making a request for action and having it completed. The process of using cloud storage is comparable to using a bank. You make deposits (uploads) and withdrawals (downloads), only instead of with money, it is with data.
Benefits of Cloud Storage for Home and Business
Cloud storage works essentially the same for both home and business. Opening a business account for personal use is possible, even if not practical or frugal to do. This is because business cloud storage accounts are generally more expensive, containing more features and capabilities than needed for basic, personal use. Still, the benefits for home and business cloud storage are quite similar except for a few differences.
Longevity is a benefit of using the cloud. Cloud storage does not break. Wi-Fi can go down and servers can malfunction, but the cloud itself, unlike DVDs or flash drives, is not a physical item at risk of breaking.
Reduced clutter is something beneficial to both personal users and businesses alike. Most cloud storage servers are run off-site by the companies providing the cloud accounts. This means no server hard drives at home and less space taken up in offices.
Convenient and fast accessibility is a huge benefit and part of what makes cloud storage so popular today. Personal users can access pictures, documents and music from their phones, tablets and other data enabled devices even while on the go. Businesses reap the benefits of multiple employees able to transparently access project or account information, edit in real-time and improve workflow, thus potentially increasing profits. Employers can also monitor all employee activity from one centralized location.
Reasonable pricing and reduced expenses are beneficial to users at home and work. Cloud storage is expandable in most cases. When storage space is running low, simply purchase more as needed. Both families and businesses can add users and space and be billed incrementally only for what is used. Pricing plans are usually available in monthly, annual, lifetime and per-user amounts, making service choices numerous and affordable.
Popular Cloud Storage Solutions
Dropbox and Google Drive tend to remain popular favorites. Both services require the creation of accounts, but Google Drive provides 15 GB of free storage space included with each Google account opened. Dropbox offers a much smaller 2 GB of space in its free accounts, but the space is designated for only what you upload to it. Google Drive, conversely, counts emails and any data contained within them against your used space total.
Apple iCloud is another popular cloud storage solution. Family sharing allows multiple family members to access the same data, which is great for home schooling, family photos and coordinating large family events. Apple iCloud can be even used even from a Windows computer due to its cross-platform accessibility. Storage plans for U.S. users range from .99c/month to $9.99/month and include 50 GB to 2 TB of space.
Amazon Drive and Microsoft OneDrive are also popular not only for cloud storage but also as household names in general. Microsoft OneDrive pricing plans are found HERE, while Amazon Drive requires opening an account and becoming an Amazon customer to access the free 5 GB they initially provide.
Other popular services include MediaFire, pCloud, and Sync.com. Services such as box.com, CertainSafe Digital Safety Deposit Box and SpiderOak ONE boast offering better ease of use and top-notch security measures, but also tend to be more expensive than other services.
Are There Risks to Using Cloud Storage Solutions?
There are some risks to using cloud storage solutions. Data security is important for users at home and in the office. Everything online can be at risk of being hacked. Servers can crash too, although this is not much different than hard drives crashing or DVDs failing due to scratches at home. Since ones of the reasons for using cloud storage service is to reduce clutter and hardware overhead, it is advisable to invest in an online data backup service, which stores your files as an added layer of protection against data loss, theft and corruption.