Can someone explain "Cloud Storage"
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.
- 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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