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Should You Switch To Cloud Computing?

As our computers take up a bigger part of our lives every day, ultimately we have to ask how all this data is going to be backed up. Traditional backup media such as floppy disks, tapes and optical media are now being found lacking in capacity, speed and cost effectiveness. That only leaves two possible options at present known as cloud and local hard drive data storage.

There are pros and cons of both types of storage, and it gets even more complicated when you take into consideration the different types of computer users. People in teams with laptops that travel alot may find that the convenience and utility of collaborative access to their information in a cloud computing environment outweighs their own personal desire for cost-effective data archival. On the other hand, people that work at home may find that backing up their data to an external hard drive and using CD duplication to mail the results of their work to their employer on a periodic basis works best for them.

Cloud storage is the most recent solution to appear as the Internet has started to become pervasive everywhere. From corporate data centers to smart phones, access to the Internet allows people to get information on almost anything instantly. Cloud storage software allows a person to back up their data to the Internet automatically allowing data sharing and collaboration with friends and colleagues in real-time. Business people that travel around the world can use the cloud to keep in touch with their companies, keep track of their meetings and provides a one-stop solution for backing up their data. The downside of cloud data backup is that it is inherently insecure. However, security can be improved by using a VPN (virtual private network) to encrypt data streaming over the Internet, and by encrypting data before storing it in the cloud. Another downside is the potential lack of Internet access due to location or technical issues. Even when cloud storage is working perfectly there are still some inherent limitations. The first is that most accounts have a practical limit on the amount of information that can be stored in a cloud account, usually in the range of a few gigabytes of data. The second limitation is that most Internet connection speeds are much slower than local storage data transfer speeds. Cost can sometimes be a factor, although it seems that prices just keep coming down all the time.

Local storage has long been the mainstay of corporate information technology departments. Some personal computer owners do not even back up their data, however fortunately, most owners perform some type of periodic backups. In the past, the media used were floppy discs, tapes and even optical media. Without the proper means to back up your data you can lose it all and need to contact experts like Secure Data Recovery to help recover all of your lost files. Lately however, storage has exploded beyond the capacities of most of these media. Today the preferred local storage option for both speed and capacity is the external hard drive. There are external hard drive models for both PC and laptop users. As storage capacities in the terabytes are becoming more common, data transfer speed is also starting to become more critical.

The biggest potential downside with local storage is that it is local. Even a portable external hard drive used with a laptop cannot provide any kind of collaborative data sharing, and if lost or stolen, can present a security problem. Of course, encryption of data on the hard drive can provide some measure of security. But it should be noted that it is much easier to decrypt data when you can access the entire hard drive at your leisure than when trying to intercept it over the Internet in small chunks. Of course, there is also the problem of the external hard drive failing which is even more likely when traveling with a laptop. The Internet is much less likely to break down than an external hard drive having to survive customs searches, traveling vibration and the occasional drop on the floor. Depending upon your budget and time-frame, cost is really hard to compare with cloud storage. However with local storage, you will usually have to pay a lot up front for the hardware. But then, you will not have any continuing monthly access charges to pay either.

Before making a decision to use cloud computing or local data storage, try to think hard how you will need to access your data and tailor your decision from that. Cost is probably less of a factor compared with the importance of the data that you are protecting. Both solutions work, you just need to pick the one that works best for you.

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