Can someone explain "Cloud Storage"

Started 8 months ago | Questions
RUcrAZ
Veteran MemberPosts: 4,180
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Can someone explain "Cloud Storage"
8 months ago

The initial Wikipedia paragraph is, to me, a bunch of goddledigoop.

It appears to be a way to buy or rent (or even for free) some storage space for our files (e.g. photos) uploaded to somewhere in the internet world, and access them via the internet.

What I'd like to know in general is:

1) Is there any "general" cloud that one can use, or are there a whole bunch of "company-specific" clouds that one must search-research?

2) Are there any free, (and if so, how to access them) and how much "space" is available?

3) The Pro-Cons of cloud space (speed of access, risk of loss, etc. etc.)

Anyway, I'll skip the rest of the questions (regarding property theft, security, etc. etc.) but would like folks that are using it to be good enough to explain cloud.

Many thanks!

RUcrAZ

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Darrell Spreen
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Re: Can someone explain "Cloud Storage"
In reply to RUcrAZ, 8 months ago

I'm not the expert, but I'll comment (since I have an opinion to share).

As I understand it, there are many "clouds" (servers) and the prices vary. Some give you a nominal amount of storage for free, maybe 2GB or so, and then charge for more. I believe you can arrange to use any one you choose and there are some big names (Google, Microsoft, etc) which offer cloud storage.

I see the advantages mostly for those who want to access their files from several devices at different times and places. Everything you've put in the cloud will be available. It's also considered to be a good way to back up files. Speed of access should be no different from your internet connection. In some cases, the cloud may offer some software for you to use.  Note that some computers may have a setup option that pre-empts storage of your files on your own hard disk in favor of cloud storage.

On the other hand, I don't think it's too different from the hosting sites that have existed for 15 years or more for storing your photos. My experience in that regard has not been too good. I've been "dumped" by 2 different hosting sites, one of which went out of business with no notice. The other gave a few months' notice to remove your files. Fortunately, I wasn't depending on online storage alone.

One shortcoming is that you may not have easy access to the cloud if you are working remotely and there have been one or two outages that kept people from their files for a day or so.

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Darrell

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karl eller
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Re: Can someone explain "Cloud Storage"
In reply to RUcrAZ, 8 months ago

RUcrAZ wrote:

The initial Wikipedia paragraph is, to me, a bunch of goddledigoop.

It appears to be a way to buy or rent (or even for free) some storage space for our files (e.g. photos) uploaded to somewhere in the internet world, and access them via the internet.

"Cloud Storage" is a general term for storage provided by hosting companies. You're not buying storage on a particular host machine like with an FTP server, but you get storage space at whatever data centre the providing comapny uses.

What I'd like to know in general is:

1) Is there any "general" cloud that one can use, or are there a whole bunch of "company-specific" clouds that one must search-research?

Google Drive, DropBox, Microsoft SkyDrive and Amazon Cloud Drive are probably the biggest 4 cloud storage products.

2) Are there any free, (and if so, how to access them) and how much "space" is available?

Almost all of them offer a limited amount (usually 5-15 Gb) for free, and then you can increase that space by paying a monthly (or yearly) subscription.

3) The Pro-Cons of cloud space (speed of access, risk of loss, etc. etc.)

We'll start with the cons:

  • Cost per GB is quite high if you need more space than what they provide for free, so don't expect to back up everything you own.
  • If you have a subscription, what happens to your data if that subscription runs out? Can you get it back by re-subscribing?
  • Security, who can access your data, etc. You know, normal internet stuff.
  • Speed of access will depend on your internet connection. If you have a crappy connection, files are going to take ages to access.

The pros:

  • You can access the files from anywhere with an internet connection. I can upload a file from my desktop and know that I can access it from my phone, tablet, laptop, or even a random library computer, as long as it has a net connection.
  • It's off-site storage. Generally for backups you want 3 levels: Local (a copy of the files on a different hard drive in your computer), external (eg an external HDD, backups on a different computer in your house, etc) and off-site (somewhere that isn't in your house, in case it gets robbed, burns down, etc). Off-site is often the most difficult to get, and cloud storage makes it easy (although storage space is often limited).
  • Generally the companies offering cloud storage are experienced with data storage, and you tend to have some peace of mind knowing that your files are fairly safe and secure, although accidents do happen.

Cloud storage isn't meant to be a replacement for external backups, it's simply too expensive, but it does have it's purposes, it's extremely convenient, and if you can do what you need to with the free storage, costs you nothing.

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sshoihet
Senior MemberPosts: 2,387Gear list
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Re: Can someone explain "Cloud Storage"
In reply to RUcrAZ, 8 months ago

RUcrAZ wrote:

The initial Wikipedia paragraph is, to me, a bunch of goddledigoop.

It appears to be a way to buy or rent (or even for free) some storage space for our files (e.g. photos) uploaded to somewhere in the internet world, and access them via the internet.

What I'd like to know in general is:

1) Is there any "general" cloud that one can use, or are there a whole bunch of "company-specific" clouds that one must search-research?

2) Are there any free, (and if so, how to access them) and how much "space" is available?

3) The Pro-Cons of cloud space (speed of access, risk of loss, etc. etc.)

Anyway, I'll skip the rest of the questions (regarding property theft, security, etc. etc.) but would like folks that are using it to be good enough to explain cloud.

Many thanks!

RUcrAZ

Cloud is a general term for anything that is hosted on a remote server, most of us have been using the "cloud" for years, it just was not marketed that way.  There are several free and pay "cloud" sites, OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox are probably the most common, Adobe, Flickr, Zenfolio and many others offer cloud storage for photos, there are cloud backup services like Crashplan and Mozy.

Most of the cloud storage sites offer free plans with varying amounts of storage, some give you a referral bonus, I have 25GB free with OneDrive.
I back up all my files locally but also remotely with Crashplan+; $12/month to backup multiple computers and I have remote access to my files from my laptop, phone or tablet if necessary.  Yes the upload speeds can be an issue with some of the services and there's always the chance they might lose your data but I use it as a second backup copy and their file versioning is handy.

I use cloud storage quite regularly for proofing galleries and sharing and sharing files with customers.  I could host them on my own site but using one of the cloud services is just easier.

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