With cloud storage becoming more and more accessible, individuals and businesses alike are making use of its capabilities.
The cloud allows countless benefits to users. For example, large data hosting platforms, including Google Drive and Dropbox, allow certain amounts of data to be stored for free, with a small fee being charged for anything above the threshold.
Other, more specialized, cloud storage services offer businesses platforms to collaborate, create and share data with ease. But the versatility of cloud storage platforms doesn’t end here – we’ve outlined some benefits highlighting why you should take advantage of the increasingly accessible service.
A lot of the larger cloud storage platforms – once again, including Google Drive and Dropbox – allow users to access their service from their respective websites. However, this is made much easier with their downloadable applications. Rather than loading up your web browser, navigating to the hosting site and dealing with your files from the browser window, the specialised applications maximise the efficiency and cuts down the time of this process by a lot. For example, Dropbox’s application service allows the user to access their Dropbox account from their desktop, simply having to load it up like you would any other application. This is made all the more useful by it’s integrated folder functionality – with this, the Dropbox application acts just as any other folder on your computer would, allowing you to simply drag and drop documents into the folder, or just pop it open to access whatever you need to. As well as this, you can simply save a document from, say, a word-processing software straight into your cloud storage folder – saving a huge amount of time.
With cloud storage’s ease of use comes with its ease of access. As cloud storage services grow and adapt with current technology, so too do they grow to be compatible with new platforms. No matter what you’re using to work on – a desktop, laptop, tablet, Android or iPhone – chances are, you’ll be able to access your main cloud storage service from whatever you’re using. This makes almost every device an access point – where you might have done most of the project’s work on your desktop computer, you could find yourself needing your files whilst away from your desk. If you’ve at least got your smartphone on you, you can just as easily access it from there, making edits to an important document from the palm of your hand.
Not just accessibility from any device, but from wherever you are – your cloud storage is usable from wherever you can find an internet connection, allowing you to store your files from one side of the world and access them from another, on whatever device you have. This is a huge boon for businesses and group projects – an important document can be shared on-the-go to everyone else who has access to the folder, reducing the need to send an email to everyone who needs to see it.
This makes it incredibly easy to move data from place to place – your business might move offices, but all your data will remain intact without a single ounce of data loss, nor any worry about backing it all up. With cloud storage, you can “plug in and play” from anywhere you are and get straight to work, edit, read or watch.
Cloud-based technology is incredibly versatile already – with such a simple concept of outsourcing data to be accessed from anywhere, it’s utilised in such ingenious ways to create and host software. It also makes collaboration-based projects a breeze, with the ability to send multiple files at once, including entire folders. Peers can access files sent by another, editing and making notes on it. It doesn’t even need to be sent back – the automatic saving on cloud platforms will simply update the file with the information you have provided, ready to be viewed by whoever else needs it.
This is especially useful for working on projects with clients – if you, or your business, are working on a project with somebody from a distance away, you can simply set up a group-accessible folder that your client can use. This allows for a self-service style transaction, where everyone involved in the project can place and take any information they need to into one convenient folder. Whereas previously you might have had to send email attachments back and forth with the latest versions and drafts of the current project, you can provide your client with a simple link to the folder. This would be all they need to access the project files – no more wrangling and keeping track of emails that had been sent weeks and weeks ago, only to lose a vital version lost amongst countless other emails, but all available in one place.
Before cloud technology, hoarding information would tend to be a very expensive practise. Companies would shell out for external hard disk drives, USBs, disks, servers and more – not to mention the price it would be to hire professionals to work and maintain the server-end of storage. Not just expensive in price, either – these would take up a lot of space, with entire rooms dedicated to storage servers, entire towers of disks and, on the complete opposite end of the scale, USB drives that are incredibly easy to lose. Cloud storage helps to eliminate these problems – on the expense side, a lot of trials (up to a particular time or file size) of cloud storage are completely free, allowing for just as much space as some high-end physical storage devices. And upgrading these to a much higher capacity is also usually just a modest sum – with prices commonly around only three US cents per gigabyte, it’s a huge amount of money saved compared to previous physical storage solutions. Not only this, but outsourcing data to cloud servers also saves a lot of costs on servers, especially the price to maintain and power them.
A common high-profile issue recently covered by news outlets is the increasing prevalence of ransomware attacks – with this, businesses and individuals who are victim to such attacks have their data encrypted my malevolent hackers, meaning they lose access to crucial files until they have paid the ransom (hence the name). With files backed up in cloud storage, this is less of a problem – if a ransomware attacker were to gain access to and encrypt your files, you could simply retrieve them from the document backup on the cloud and literally call the attacker’s bluff. And it’s not only ransomware attacks you’ll be safe from – most cloud storage services put a lot of their focus into security measures, making services like Dropbox and Google Drive hard to crack. With this, your files can be safe, though still easily accessible to you, when stored in the cloud. As well as this, physical hard drives and disks could literally be stolen from offices and people’s belongings with relative ease – with the cloud being largely nebulous and without-location, your files are much harder to steal.
Cloud-based storage ensures that obsolete files and formats are a thing of the past. With previous physical storage types, a sizable update in the world of technology could render all of your stored files completely useless. In the past few decades, filetypes have come and gone as quickly as some fashions have. It’s nearly impossible at this point to update floppy disks to a modern and viable file format, if you happened to still have any of those with important information still on it. With the online nature of cloud storage, the platform constantly updates to accommodate new file types and formats. If you happened to use the same cloud storage platform for about a decade, you would probably be able to still access your very earliest files long after the filetype had been updated.
Cloud storage also ensures that your files will never expire or be lost – they remain secure in the care of the storage provider, staying secure and without loss in both transit and at rest. Effectively, this makes your files immortal – only being lost when the user wills them to be deleted entirely. Otherwise, they remain steadfast in your folder forever, up until the death of the universe itself. And even then, depending on the quality of the service you’re using, they’ll last long after that.
So if you’re not already using a cloud-based storage service, it is tremendously advisable that you do so. Cloud storage assists with not only with the efficiency of your business or personal project – but with the efficiency of space and cost, the potential for growth and collaboration, file security and accessibility. No longer will we be bound to the limits of physical storage – searching for hours in desk drawers for a USB stick that’s compatible with our platform, or has enough space for our project, nor will we surrender an entire room to storage servers. No, the future is above and beyond – not just in a metaphorical way, but in accessing the cloud, we have a greater hope and a greater scope for project innovation.