While it’s true that all computer owners store data, some users acquire so much information that their computer almost qualifies as a mini-library of sorts. For these users, finding enough storage space to hold all the data they’ve accumulated can seem like Mission Impossible.
Some people invest in larger hard drives. Others favor external storage devices like thumb drives or compact discs. Then there are those who are choosing to rely on a growing trend: cloud storage.
What cloud storage really is boils down to this: It’s saving data to an off-site storage system maintained by a third party. Rather than storing information to your computer’s hard drive or other local storage device, you save it to a remote database. The Internet provides the connection between your computer and the database.
It’s easy to see the advantages cloud storage has over traditional data storage right away:
If you store your data on a cloud storage system, you’ll be able to retrieve data from any location that has Internet access.
You don’t need to carry around a physical storage device or use the same computer to save and retrieve your information.
If you have the proper storage system, you could even allow other people to access the data, turning a personal project into a collaborative effort.
It may surprise you to learn this, but there are hundreds of different cloud storage systems. Some have a very specific focus, such as storing Web email messages or digital pictures. The purpose of others is to store all forms of digital data.
Some cloud storage systems are small operations, while others are so huge that the physical equipment can fill up an entire warehouse. The facilities that house cloud storage systems are called data centers.
Reduced to it’s most basic level, a cloud storage system needs just one data server connected to the Internet. A client, (a computer user subscribing to a cloud storage service), sends copies of files over the Internet to the data server, which then records the information.
Whenever the client wants to retrieve the information, they access the data server through a Web-based interface. The server then either sends the files back to the client or allows the client to access and manipulate the files on the server itself.
Unfortunately, computers are far from perfect, and occasionally require maintenance or repair. That’s why cloud storage systems normally depend upon hundreds of data servers to store the same information on multiple machines. This is known as redundancy. If they didn’t use this tactic, a cloud storage system couldn’t promise clients that they could access their information at any time.
Most cloud storage systems have the same data stored on servers that use different power supplies. This way, clients will have access to their data even if one power supply fails.
Cloud storage isn’t just for those clients concerned about running out of storage space. It is often used as a way to create backups of data. If a client’s computer system suffers a meltdown, the data survives off-site.
There are hundreds of cloud storage providers on the Web, and more are popping up all the time. Providing storage isn’t the only area in which competition is strong, but also the amount of storage each company offers to its clients seems to be growing daily.
So cloud storage is here to stay, and like anything else it has it’s proponents and its detractors.
While it’s not foolproof, it can be of great assistance to both individuals and businesses alike because it does the data saving for you, effectively eliminating the need to store information on your own computer or that of your business. You just need to determine what your requirements are before signing on with a cloud storage provider.