What is Cloud Storage & How Does it Work?
We are all using more and more devices every day to carry out both work tasks as well as for personal use. As a result, we want all our devices to sync quickly and have all the information we have saved on our computers also available on handheld devices and vice versa.
Due to this need, there has been a huge growth in the number of online storage solutions available. More specifically, there seems to be a large array of companies offering cloud storage as a solution to many online storage problems. But what exactly is cloud storage? And how does it work? And why should we choose it over other forms of online storage?
Here, in this article, we look to answer those questions as well as investigating how to choose the best cloud storage for you, by pointing out key features to look out for. Finally, we give some of our best cloud storage recommendations that we believe offer an excellent product for all your storage needs.
What is cloud storage?
Cloud storage can seem like a fairly abstract concept to those that are used to saving their work and data on hardware like a computer system. However, cloud storage is a method of saving the same amount of information on remote storage systems by a third-party provider. The result is that users can log into their online cloud storage facility from wherever they are in the world and retrieve documents and data.
Cloud storage providers also are responsible for ensuring that that data is available at all times as well as being protected. A big advantage of using cloud storage as opposed to storing data on hardware either in your home or business is the use of space. This is particularly key for businesses. If you do not need large servers onsite to store information because it is held off-site at a third-party provider, you manage to save physical space within your building.
Ultimately, cloud storage offers users a convenient and flexible way of working and interacting with data. Additionally, it can also offer people and companies a way of backing up their data and information off-site, away from their hardware.
How does cloud storage work and why would people want to use it over other forms of online storage?
Cloud storage is meant to answer the need for people to have an off-site location for their data, documents, and files. Online storage came about as a method to back up your data in case your digital information got lost or was subject to a virus or was damaged in some ways. While cloud storage versus other forms of online storage can be fairly interchangeable, it is fundamental to remember that cloud storage actually allows a person to work on a file that is saved to a cloud’s server. There is no need to download it to your device from the cloud, then work on it and then re-save it back to the cloud. The manipulation is done digitally off-site too.
Cloud storage works by allowing customers to save files on a data server at a data center. A data center can have just a couple of data servers or several hundred in a warehouse-type building. However, regardless of size, the premise of how cloud storage then works is the same. A client can send over an internet connection a file that he or she wants to be saved in their cloud storage location. He or she can then retrieve that file as and when she wants by accessing it through the storage provider’s interface online.
How Does Cloud Storage Work?
The cloud works by allowing you to upload your digital files onto the server, so you can retrieve it again any time you wish. If you are using a reputable cloud storage service your information will be password protected and encrypted – meaning that your data is safe. Often, your account will be accessed behind a two-factor authentication safety measure, which means that a password be required for you to access your files alongside a code that will be sent to your phone, which you will then need to input to gain access.
Most cloud storage services will allow you to store different files such as: images, videos, documents, and music. But you will need to check as some limit the type of file that you can store on their server.
The way in which you upload files differs from company to company. Some cloud storage solutions support in-browser uploads only which means that you will have to log into the cloud storage website to upload your files. Whereas some others provide desktop applications which make uploading information a simple process. If you have an app on your PC or Mac all you will need to do is simply drag and drop your files into the dedicated folder. Some cloud services also have apps for your smartphone, enabling you to quickly upload files and images from your phone. Torrent cloud storage is a lesser-known service which allows you to download torrents from your browser and store files in your account to download or stream at a later date.
Standard cloud services usually include the ability to stream videos and music, access your files from your desktop or mobile device, share files with others, download shared files to your account and encrypt files to keep them extra secure.
Features to consider when deciding what online cloud storage to get
It is always advisable to keep the budget you have for your cloud storage needs in mind when deciding which cloud storage provider to go with. Some of the cheapest cloud storage solutions out there can be very tempting, but they’re not always going to answer your every need. On the flip side, it is possible that some cloud technology firms can offer you exactly what you need at a low price.
Either way, it is best to ensure that you stick to your budget while making certain that all your needs and requirements are met. Without meeting your needs, you could be buying online file storage space that you end up not using or worse, online file storage space that you can’t use.
Amount of free storage
Bearing your budget in mind, it is always a good idea to check out what a possible online storage provider offers in terms of free storage. It can be a good way of keeping your costs down as well as trying out a provider before you make the leap into actually purchasing a cloud storage solution.
This may only be possible however if your online file storage needs are low enough that the free storage space is enough for you – often free storage space with cloud technology providers is aimed at individuals. Additionally, it tends to be that the cheapest cloud storage solution offers the least amount of free storage, so they do not always work out as the best value.
File size limit
It is important to think about the average file size you or your company uses. If it is large, not all online storage providers will be suitable for your needs. You also need to consider how quickly a cloud storage solution is able to deliver a file if it is large. This can have a material impact on your business’s day to day output if your employees are spending too long trying to access data-heavy files from cloud technology.
Bear in mind when looking for the best cloud storage solution for you what are the most common data types you use. Not all online file storage providers can save every file type, which is critical to remember before subscribing to an online file storage provider on a recurring, contractual basis. It can mean that the cloud storage that you do subscribe to becomes null and void as the provider does not have the means of storing it.
Consider what operating software you or your employees will be trying to access the data from. This is essential to get right from the beginning as if your online storage provider is not supported by a much-used piece of OS, it can make access files and information on your network almost impossible. It will revert you to a time when employees needed to work from their own computer mainframe to access documents and files required to complete their day to day tasks.
So ask yourself, does the prospective cloud storage provider you may subscribe to have a Windows app, an iOS app or an Android app?
In a day and age where the security of data is key to the smooth running of a business, it is important to ask how does your potential cloud storage provider protect your information? Often encryption is one of the key and fundamental ways that anyone can protect data and it is good to see a cloud storage provider who uses it. It means the company is trying to ensure no unwanted eyes can view the data you save on their cloud. Cloud storage security is essential to get right so that you, your employees and your customers can be sure of the integrity of your company’s data.
Our best cloud storage recommendations
Here are our recommendations for the best cloud storage solutions that you can buy – and why.
pCloud is an excellent option for cloud storage as it does not require users to have a file size limit so that it is perfect for those that use huge media or video files. While bandwidth can sometimes be strangled a little, it is still very quick to use as well as user-friendly and well priced. If you are concerned about security, there is also the option that allows users to sign up for file encryption.
Users can access files from a website login but there is also the ability to access data through a desktop or even mobile device. While this is not totally unusual for online storage providers, pCloud sets itself apart somewhat by offering two options for lifetime subscriptions. Within these plans, users can have unlimited remote upload transfers as well as a month’s long trash history. The more basic lifetime subscription has 500 GB of storage and the Premium Plus package has 2TB.
The Premium 500GB Annual plan costs $3.99 a month, or a year’s contract is $47.88. The Lifetime Premium is a one-off payment of $175 for 500 GB of storage. In comparison, Premium Plus plans are $7.99 on a monthly basis or $95.88 for a year’s contract. This is the plan that includes 2TB of storage. For a Lifetime membership, there is a $350 cost.
With a name like Mega, this online storage provider needed to have a hard to beat offering. It does so with a very generous free plan that includes 50GB of storage, while its next plan, entitled the Pro-Lite, has 200GB for $6 a month.
But it’s the user interface that really sets it apart. It is simple to use with just a drag and drop action needed to store or back up your files. Its mobile app is also user-friendly, where users can upload files or photos quickly.
The security surrounding Mega is also top of the range. The company encrypts its connections so that your transfers are always safeguarded. Additionally, users alone have the encryption key. This means that not even Mega can infiltrate your files. Finally, the company has chosen to further strengthen its safety features by making the sync client open source and is consistently checked for weaknesses.
We rate iDrive as a quality online storage provider thanks to its fast connections that are also incredibly secure. Importantly it is easy for even the biggest technophobes to use so if you are looking to roll this out across a workforce, then everybody will be able to use it. We also like that iDrive covers network drives which means that all mobile devices are covered by the storage solution as well as servers.
It can cost as little as $3.48 a year for the iDrive Personal for the first year of subscription. This is eye-wateringly cheap given the amount of back up that this storage solution can provide – and easily too.
It also has face recognition software for all those that save a lot of photos or images. It means that your photos can be organized quickly and easily as well as seeing them synced across all devices. Additionally, sharing files with iDrive is easy as it allows the process to be done through email or Facebook or even Twitter.
Cloud storage and online storage are a big benefit to companies for so many reasons. Not only do they free up physical space needed for energy-hungry data servers, but they also allow people to work off-site, anywhere in the world. By logging into a cloud system, users find that they are able to work on documents, data, and files as if they were based in an office. This provides a huge amount of convenience and flexibility for both businesses and the personnel that work for them.
Additionally, cloud storage can also act as a way of backing up data in case of any security breaches or loss of data. In short, it not only can make a company more efficient, but it also provides it with a massive safety net too.