You’ve probably heard the term ‘cloud storage’ before, but you may be wondering what it is. In this guide, we’ll give you an introduction to cloud storage, including what it is, why it’s useful and we’ll also give you a brief overview of the top cloud storage providers.
What is Cloud Storage?
Cloud storage is the term that is used for a service that maintains, manages and backs up data remotely. This data is made available to users via a network, usually the Internet. Those who use cloud storage usually pay for the service, and the amount that a user pays is typically based on the amount the person uses the services, and the fee is customarily paid monthly.
Cloud storage is very similar to an external hard drive in terms of its purpose and the way it functions. In other words, users choose files that they want to save and then transfer those files to something other than an internal hard drive. However, cloud storage works through a connection via the Internet, whereas an external storage device works via a connection to a USB wire.
Why is Cloud Storage Useful?
Cloud storage offers several benefits. Here’s a look at some of the most notable advantages that it provides.
Prior to cloud storage, the amount of data you could save was limited. You ended up having to clear out their files in order to make more storage space for new information. The downside of this method of saving information meant that users ended up having to pick and choose what would stay and what would go, often giving up things that they really liked in order to save things that were really important; for example, a user might have to sacrifice a game that he really liked playing in order to save important financial documents.
With cloud storage, users don’t have to pick and choose what they have to get rid of in order to save something else. They can literally store an unlimited amount of data (as long as you are prepare to pay for it) as capacity is managed by the service provider.
Another key advantage of cloud storage is its accessibility. Users can literally access the data they have saved where and whenever they want, as long as they have access to the Internet. This means that you will have access to important documents, music and video files, and even photographs from any device that has access to the Internet, including a desktop computer, a laptop, a smartphone or a tablet.
Not only can users access the data they have saved from anywhere that has Internet access, but they can also easily share files with anyone they choose. This gives cloud storage users the ability to share their files with other cloud storage users. For example, family members overseas can easily view pictures of the latest snapshots.
Top Cloud Storage Providers
There are several providers that offer cloud storage services; however, some are a lot better than others. The following are the top cloud storage providers that are currently available:
- Google Drive. There is no charge for Google Drive for up to 15GB of storage. For more storage, users have to pay a fee; about $2.50AU a month for 100GB of storage.
- Dropbox. Dropbox is the most popular cloud storage service. It offers users the ability to collaborate, and it also gives each person an unlimited space in a personal Dropbox account. Only 2GB of storage is available for free, but that can be upgraded to 16GB by simply linking Dropbox to social media and by referring friends. For even more storage, users will have to pay a fee.
- Apple iCloud. iOS devices are already outfitted with iCloud; however, it only offers 5GB of storage for free. For about $1.30 AU, you can get 50GB of storage a month.
- Microsoft OneDrive. Part of Microsoft’s suite of online services, OneDrive offers 5GB of storage at no cost. Additional storage can be added for a fee, or with a subscription to additional Microsoft services, such as Office 365 or Groove Music.
- Amazon Drive. Amazon also offers a cloud storage service, but it only offers 5GB of storage for free. You will have to pay an additional fee, and that fee is based on your specific storage needs. In addition to Drive, Amazon offers additional services to suit the needs of all users. For example, their S3 is a Simple Storage Service, which offers storage via web services interfaces. They also offer Glacier, which is offers storage for both archiving data and backup for data that is not frequently used. There are additional costs with these services, but they are minimal, and depending on your needs, they can be well worth the price.
Which Services are Better for What Users?
The service that will work best for you really depends on your specific needs. For example, Google Drive is a natural choice for Android users, as their devices are already outfitted with this cloud storage service. Likewise, iCloud is best for iOS users, as Apple devices come with built-in access to iCloud.
Synology and QNAP?
Network-attached storage (NAS) is a data storage server that is connected to a computer network. It provides users with to store and access data from a centralized location, serving as a backup for cloud storage. It’s like extra security for your data. Synology and QNAP are the two most popular NAS service providers. They are easy to use, extremely secure and offer the ability to host your own private cloud or to sync with one of the cloud providers mentioned above.
In a world that is driven by data, cloud storage is absolutely essential. The service that works best for you really depends on your specific needs; however, rest assured that there is a cloud storage service that will benefit you.