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Exploring Cloud Storage - Part 1 - What's the Cloud?

Posted on June 24th, 2013 by Emily

The revolution of ‘cloud computing’ has well and truly taken hold, partly due to the always-on nature and capacity of most broadband internet services. Rather than forcing users to be tied to one machine to work, cloud computing and cloud storage services store data remotely (“in the cloud”) and can provide access to files or software that are needed, any time, anywhere, provided the user has access to a suitable computer or mobile device.

Over the next few weeks on our blog, we’ll be exploring the advantages, disadvantages and potential of cloud computing and cloud storage, for businesses and individuals.

Most people will have heard of one of the four main Cloud Storage offerings Apple iCloud, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive Pro and Dropbox. They all have many things in common, one of them being that they all allow you to store your documents, files and information remotely, and access it anywhere, anytime, simply by logging in to an app or website.

There are many advantages and disadvantages to storing data this way, but for many, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Put yourself in this scenario: you want to take a document home or just out of the office to work on, but you’ve forgotten your USB pen drive, external drive, or USB sync cable for your tablet or smartphone – what do you do? Chances are that you’ll have only one option – to email it to yourself, which takes time and effort and is often subject to limits in terms of file size, and in some cases isn’t possible at all. Cloud computing solves this problem by keeping the documents in folders you choose synchronized over all of the devices connected to that account. Working on a document on your laptop? Save it, wait a few seconds and its most recent version will be available, seamlessly, on your desktop machine or smartphone, or available to your colleague back in the office who needs to read or edit the document. It really is that simple.

Or imagine yourself in this situation: Your laptop is stolen or your server crashes and the data is irretrievable. All companies should keep backups for this kind of situation, but they may not be as up to date as you’d like. But in this situation, if your file is stored remotely on the cloud, there’s no loss of productivity. You can simply open your document on another device, and continue working. Some cloud storage services allow their users to de-sync devices, meaning that the next time the application tries to connect in from the lost or stolen device, the files will be removed from it and the device’s permissions will be revoked.

Cloud storage also makes collaboration quicker and easier. You don’t need to email files back and forth among your team, or deal with multiple versions of the same file. One file, synced across many devices, saving time and space.

One of the drawbacks to cloud storage is that it makes data more susceptible to interception or hacking than it would be if the data was stored on one single drive, so cloud storage and sharing of highly sensitive data may not be advised. All cloud storage data for the main four solutions covered in our blog is transmitted over a secure connection, and stored securely; using cloud storage is just as secure, if not more so, than using email to transmit versions of the file back and forth among clients and team members. In an email, the data is still sent electronically and may not be as secure.

Often when people think of cloud storage, one of the disadvantages they list is that it requires an internet connection to stay in sync. You can still edit, create and delete files, but the changes you make or changes others make while you are disconnected will not show up until your computer has reconnected to the internet and synchronised. This often turns out to be less of a problem than people perceive it to be, however, as you’ll find that in our increasingly connected world, users are very rarely without some form of internet connection to hand.

Geek-Guru provide IT systems and support all over the Birmingham and West Midlands area, and even beyond, so if you’re interested in how you or your business could benefit from cloud computing or storage, if you want to know more about it, or if you’d like to know how Geek-Guru could improve your Business’ IT, give us a call now on 0845 234 0580, drop us a note using our contact form, or get in touch with us via email at info@geek-guru.co.uk.

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