Tips & Guides
July 21, 2021

What is cloud storage and how can I store my data in a cloud?

Computer storage? Let’s not cloud the issue. Here’s a clear, straightforward account of how cloud storage is reshaping the way we store our data.

Floppy disks, flash drives, and USB sticks have had their day. Why? Because cloud storage has come along to completely reshape the way we store data. 

Chances are, you’ve heard of “the cloud?” But what does storing data on the cloud actually mean? Is it safe? And how easy is it to store your data on the cloud? In this piece, we’ll answer all these questions and walk you through setting up your own cloud storage.

Cloud storage 101 - TechBuddy infographic

What exactly is cloud storage and why is it a big deal?

We all need a space to store things. In our homes, we have shelves, cupboards, and drawers, etc. Well, with computer data, storage works the same way. It needs a space, called hard disc drives (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD), where we can store it.

Previously, we simply saved data directly on the internal storage devices of our computer, smartphone, or tablet. But now we use so much data - just think of all the apps, programs, games, and media files on your devices - that this storage space is oftentimes not big enough anymore. Basically, we run out of “shelf space”. 

Of course, we could just “declutter” and remove any data we might not need anymore to create some extra space. But sooner or later, we’d face the same problem again. We could also buy external hard drives to have more space, but these can be inconvenient as they require us to physically connect them with our devices via a cable every time we want to access data. And god-forbid if the external hard drives storing our precious data like family photos, videos and so on ever got stolen, damaged, or lost. So what’s the real solution? Cloud storage!

Cloud storage is like a massive, virtual lock 'n' store space that’s open 24/7 and lets you store and access files online from anywhere. To be more precise, it’s a service where data is stored via the internet on physical computer servers that are located in huge remote, high-security data centers. Since, as end-users, we can’t really see where exactly these data centers are, we simply use the abstract word “cloud” to describe the space where the data is saved. 

The best thing? The storage space in the cloud is pretty much limitless. So you can easily and instantly upgrade to extend your available space whenever you want. 

Chances are, you’ve already been using cloud technology without even realizing it. In fact, if you’ve ever sent an email, you’ve used a form of cloud storage! 

How does the cloud work and how do I use it?

First, you sign up for a cloud platform (see next section). This can be done using any device – a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. The cloud can then also be set up and accessed using all of these devices.

You’ll also need to choose a plan. Most platforms offer either free storage up to a certain amount or a free trial for a certain period of time. Paid options are also not expensive though. In fact, they will cost you much less than your Netflix subscription, assuming that you’re fine with a couple of terabytes of storage - which would be enough to store 34,000 hours of music, over 600,000 photos, or 1,000 HD-quality movies. Regardless of whether you go with a free or paid option, once you’ve signed up and logged in, you can upload any file to the cloud. 

Besides pure cloud storage providers, there are also several organizations that offer cloud-based services. For instance, Gmail – a free email service that stores your emails in the cloud. 

Another example is Google Drive which comes with several integrated programs, like Google Docs. You can access it through your email account to then create documents online, instead of on your computer’s internal storage space. So, you can write a document that automatically saves to the cloud as you’re typing and you can share it with other people, all without having to actually install any software on your computer.

Best cloud storage platforms

There are countless cloud storage providers, with most of them usually offering free storage space up to a certain threshold. Here are some of the most popular ones:

Free platforms

  • Google Drive – 15GB free storage, upgrade to Google One for 100GB
  • MEGA – 15GB free storage, up to 16TB paid storage
  • Icedrive – 10GB free storage, up to 5TB for paid storage
  • pCloud – 10GB free storage, 2TB for paid storage
  • OneDrive – 5GB free storage, up to 6TB for paid storage
  • IDrive - 5GB free storage, up to 10TB for paid storage
  • Dropbox – 2GB free storage, 3TB
  • Degoo – 100GB free storage, up to 10TB paid storage

Paid platforms

Pros and cons of cloud storage

Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks to cloud storage:

Pros

  • Much easier to use and more convenient than using USBs and external hard drives
  • Can be accessed remotely via the internet from anywhere in the world using any device 
  • Saves storage space on your computer, phone, tablet or any other tech device
  • Files are automatically backed up for recovery. So, if your device is ever stolen, lost, or damaged, you won’t lose any data that’s stored in the cloud.
  • Allows you to collaborate with other people on projects

Cons

  • Internet connection needed to access your files
  • If your cloud storage provider’s servers go out, you may temporarily lose access to your files
  • Various T&Cs for each platform that you need to be aware of, such as the warranties of the platforms and certain disclaimers. It’s something you don’t have to navigate with a simple local hard drive  

Is cloud storage safe?

cloud storage on laptop device

Since your data is stored in high-tech, high-security data centers that run multiple backups and monitoring regularly, your data is much safer in the cloud than on your device at home. Granted, there is a potential security risk when using the cloud – though it has less to do with the cloud storage provider and mostly stems from how we use the cloud. So here’s what you can do to ensure your cloud-based files have an extra layer of security:

Cloud storage safety tips

  • Consider making backups of extra important data and files across different cloud platforms. This will ensure you can always access a safety copy in case your cloud data becomes unavailable due to a temporary tech issue by your cloud provider or hackers compromising your cloud storage account
  • Turn on account alerts to let you know when someone is accessing your files
  • Deactivate old devices from your cloud so your files can’t be accessed on them. You’ll be able to find this option in the settings or preferences menu
  • Always use secure passwords (uppercase, lowercase, and special characters) and don’t use the same password for more than one account. Even better, use a password manager and add an extra layer with 2FA (two-factor authentication)
  • If accessing your data on a public computer, always remember to log out and never save your password or username

Cloud storage is the future

Say goodbye to running out of storage space on your smartphone, camera, or laptop. With cloud storage, you can always easily add more space to your device with just a few clicks whenever you want. It is thanks to this convenience, and the increased layer of security, why cloud storage is expected to become the key storage medium in the near future. And, with so much data out there in the world, local storage just cannot keep up.

So whether you’re using it to collaborate with co-workers, as a vault for precious family memories, or anything in between, cloud storage is the way to go.

Need help setting up your cloud storage account? Contact a Buddy today!

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