What is Cloud Storage?

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In 2016, the Cloud is essential to everyday Internet use. Though most users don’t understand the mechanics of the Cloud, they’ve likely interacted with Cloud services without even realizing it — Cloud computing is involved in everything from media streaming to online business transactions. Read on to learn more about Cloud storage and how you can use it to host data for your business.

The Basics of Storing Data in the Cloud

“The Cloud” is a nebulous term that often conjures images of a digital fog floating somewhere in the atmosphere. In actuality, the phrase refers to networks of storage servers hosted by various companies — it’s a physical infrastructure as much as it is an abstract idea.

Cloud storage, then, simply refers to the use of that Cloud infrastructure to save and hold data — usually through a plan with a third-party provider. Chances are, you’re already more familiar with Cloud storage than you realize. Plenty of mundane activities, like posting a file on Google Drive, involve transferring files from your computer’s internal memory into a network of Cloud servers.

Types of Cloud Storage

Many people use the term “Cloud storage” loosely, combining all types of hosting under a single umbrella. In reality, however, all Cloud hosting is not created equal. Different types of Cloud storage cater to different needs and concerns.

Public Cloud Storage

Public Cloud hosting is available to any users who want to enroll in a plan. It usually requires subscribers to pay third-party companies for access to a certain amount of data storage.

Private Cloud Storage

Private Cloud storage — sometimes called internal Cloud storage — refers to storage networks that are owned and operated by a single company. This setup gives users control over their data, and the hosting servers may be located either onsite or offsite.

Hybrid Cloud Storage

Hybrid services offer a link between private and public Cloud storage. It allows companies to keep some data privately maintained while making other files publicly accessible.

Community Cloud Storage

This is a relatively new type of Cloud storage. It effectively acts as private storage repository that can be shared among various organizations, enabling easier collaboration across companies.

Cloud Storage Popularity and Growth

Cloud storage is becoming increasingly popular, as running applications and software exclusively from physical computers or internal servers is financially impossible for many companies. By switching to public or hybrid Cloud storage, businesses can cut excessive spending and save thousands of dollars each year — leaving staff with more time and resources to focus on innovation and other business concerns.

As Cloud storage use grows, more Cloud hosting companies are working to offer useful and secure solutions for business storage needs. Google, Amazon, and Dropbox, for example, all offer enterprise options that can simplify collaboration and improve security within corporations.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Public Cloud Hosting

Pros

  • Access: Because public Cloud servers are hosted remotely, Cloud storage can prevent data loss from physical damage or outages. A good storage provider will have a wide network of data servers, so even if the infrastructure goes down in one area, there will be other servers to act as alternatives.
  • Flexibility: As you look for business storage solutions, you should be mindful of how your storage needs will change as your business grows. Most public Cloud storage providers offer scalability options, making it easy to expand your storage plan as your company develops.

Cons

  • Security: Public Cloud hosting has long been labeled as a more vulnerable storage option, as hackers are often eager to target such large stores of data. Additionally, Cloud hosting centers are ruled by different laws, meaning that the government can potentially access data stored at a hosting center. If you’re worried about any sensitive files, you should encrypt it before storing it in the Cloud.
  • Lack of Control: When you choose to store your files offsite with a public host, you have almost no control over the infrastructure your files are being stored under. This can make it challenging to switch Cloud providers, so try to anticipate your needs in advance to avoid problematic transfer issues.

Picking a Cloud Storage Provider

When choosing a Cloud storage provider, there are more factors to consider than just space — your files are essentially in the hands of whoever hosts your Cloud storage, so your provider needs to be safe and adaptable. As you explore your options, consider each provider’s network size, security, and reliability. If you’re considering Google or Amazon Cloud services, check out our comparison here.

If possible, consider hosting data through your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Companies like CenturyLink offer affordable hosting plans for current Internet subscribers. Additionally, the company has rock-solid data centers worldwide, providing logistical security with multiple levels of protection. CenturyLink’s reliable Internet offerings also pair well with Cloud hosting, as its high-bandwidth plans ensure fast and dependable data uploads.

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