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. Of course, having access to Cloud storage and computing won’t do you much good without first having a strong Internet connection. Take a moment to find out if CenturyLink can offer you better prices on quality high-speed Internet or Internet home service bundles. 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
- 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.
- 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.
Internet access has become more of a necessity than a luxury, making it important to be able to get online no matter where you are. When you’re at home, having a strong and reliable Internet connection can help boost your productivity, whether you’re using it for work or just to relax. Especially when you’re service comes with an affordable price tag. However, thanks to Wi-Fi hotspots — physical locations that provide users with Wi-Fi Internet access — connecting to the Web is easy, even if you’re away from your home or office network.
Types of Wi-Fi Hotspots
While there are plenty of ways to access the Internet on the go, hotspots are among the easiest to use. However, not all hotspot connections are the same. Here are the most common Wi-Fi hotspot types and their individual specifications.
Public hotspot networks generally don’t require a password. They also often have limited functionality for security reasons. While many public hotspots are free, some branded hotspots — like those found at airports or hotels — require a fee for use.
Certain hotspot networks are offered through Internet Service Provider (ISP) subscriptions. These hotspots are available at a variety of locations and are usually identified by the ISP name. Subscribers who use the ISP offering the hotspot can access the Internet by logging in with their customer username and password.
Many smartphones now have a feature that allows you to turn your phone into a mobile hotspot. Enabling this option lets you broadcast a Wi-Fi signal directly from your mobile device. This is a convenient way to access the Internet, especially if you’re someplace where a public or subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot isn’t available. Keep in mind that, in many cases, mobile hotspot Wi-Fi uses data from your cellular data plan.
How to Find Wi-Fi Hotspots
Now that you understand what a hotspot is, you just need to know how to find them. Depending on the type of spot you’re looking for, there are a few different options.
First, find out if your Internet Service Provider provides hotspots for subscribers. If it does, it will likely have online or app-accessible hotspot finders. Most finders will also let you search for a ZIP code or address to locate nearby hotspots.
If you want to find a Wi-Fi hotspot that’s not necessarily subscription-based, there are plenty of free Wi-Fi finders online. These locators can help identify hotspots across the country and the globe.
Additionally, there are a variety of free hotspot finder apps for both iOS and Android. These apps often have downloadable databases that make it possible to find a hotspot even when you’re offline.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to specific businesses about their Wi-Fi availability, either. Some businesses advertise their Wi-Fi connections — many Internet cafes owe their very existence to hotspot technology, in fact — but even if they don’t, it never hurts to ask an employee or manager if they have an accessible guest network.
In the event that you’re not able to find a nearby Wi-Fi hotspot, why not make your own? Contact your phone carrier to learn more about their mobile hotspot guidelines and restrictions.
Understanding how Wi-Fi hotspots work and where to find them is the key to staying connected no matter where you go.
The Internet has completely revolutionized our world culture by making information more accessible and making global communication instantaneous. And while the benefits that have come from this change are too numerous to count—especially when you’re getting a great Internet service at a great price—this interconnection has also opened the door to new types of crime. For example, we’ve all heard the term, and know it’s bad, but what exactly does “phishing” really mean?
Phishing is a form of fraud whereby a cyberattacker seeks to obtain your sensitive information. It most commonly occurs via emails that appear to be from a legitimate organization (often a financial institution) but actually contain a link to a fake website that replicates the real one and attempts to steal your login credentials. Phishers may also operate through other methods such as fraudulent phone calls pretending to offer computer help.
What Phishing Scams Do
Phishers try to compromise your cybersecurity to gain access to your personal information — like your bank account, which they may use to withdraw money, make purchases, or open new bank or credit card accounts in your name. In addition to financial information, phishers may seek to learn your usernames and passwords, social security number, and other sensitive information that could breach your personal and home security.
Phishers may also install viruses and worms on a victim’s computer to disseminate their fraudulent emails to even more people.
How to Detect Phishing
Phishing emails can usually be identified by a few key indicators. Carefully examine emails you receive from people or organizations you don’t know, as well as emails from organizations that house or require your personal information. Here are seven things that may indicate an email is a phishing scam.
- Omission of your name. Look for generic phrases like “Dear Friend.”
- Unprofessional spelling and/or grammar.
- Threats stating that your security has been compromised or that you need to take action immediately.
- Requests for personal information, such as login credentials, passwords, or credit card details.
- Fantastic claims, like unlikely inheritances or get-rich-quick schemes promising high-interest returns.
- Misleading hyperlinks to unsecure sites. Websites that begin with “http” rather than “https” (the “s” stands for “secure”) shouldn’t be trusted.
- Requests for money or donations.
How to Protect Yourself from Phishing
Email awareness aside, there are some other things you can also do to protect yourself from phishing scams.
- Keep your computer and network security up-to-date.
Always make sure you have the latest version of your antivirus software installed — don’t just click “remind me later” every time your computer shows that it needs updating. Keep your firewall enabled and your operating system up-to-date.
- Think before you click.
If you don’t know what you’re clicking, don’t click. Hover your mouse over a link to see its destination — if it looks suspicious or unfamiliar, avoid it. Similarly, if you receive an email claiming to be from your bank, don’t use links contained in the email to navigate to it — go straight to your bank’s website instead.
- Verify the authenticity of suspicious emails.
If you aren’t certain whether an email is from the company or institution it claims to be, call the real one to find out. Your bank would rather answer your calls than have you fall victim to a phishing scam.
- Keep your router secure.
Setting a unique password for your router stops phishers from hijacking it by using the default password. Old routers are especially vulnerable to attacks, as they often came with generic sign-in credentials like “admin” and “password.” To maximize your network security, you should also turn off broadcasting (so people won’t know your wireless name/SSID), disable guest networks and remote access, update the firmware, and get a network monitoring app.
- Be wary of suspicious phone calls.
Phishers may catch you off guard by calling you and posing as someone legitimate from your bank. Never divulge any personal information over the phone to unverified callers.
What to Do if You Are the Victim of a Phishing Scam
If you become aware of a phishing scam that targets your home or network security, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission to report it. You can also forward any scam emails you receive to firstname.lastname@example.org. APWG seeks to unify the global response to cybercrime through data exchange, research, and public awareness.
If you’ve become the victim of a phishing scam, immediately change your usernames and passwords to any compromised accounts. You will also want to contact your credit agencies and other accounts to let them know you have been the victim of fraud.
Home Internet is one of the best modern conveniences around, but to make sure you’re getting the most out of your Internet connection, you need to have a router — and know how it works. If all the gadgets and tools that come along with having Internet make your head spin, we’re here to answer all your questions.
What is a router?
Simply put, a router connects your devices to the Internet. It is the link between the Internet and your computer, smartphone, tablet, and any other Wi-Fi enabled device.
If I have a modem, do I need a router?
Don’t confuse an Internet router with a modem. The two work together to make your home network function. The modem is the go-between for your router and the Internet. The router takes the broadband or wireless signal that is delivered through your modem and routes it to your devices so you can go online.
Is it hard to set up an Internet router?
Setting up your home router is simple. All you need to do is connect the router to the modem and a power source. Once the router is up and running, you will be able to log in to your computer and see the default network name that identifies your pathway to the Internet. Before you start surfing the Web, though, you will want to rename your network and add a secure password.
How do I name my router?
The name associated with your router is called the SSID, and it identifies your network so that you can connect devices to the Internet. When you change the name, you will actually be changing the name of the network, not the name of the router. You want to give your network a secure name that will help protect the data that is sent over your Internet connection.
Default network names often include the name of the company that manufactured the router. Brand-specific names are easy for hackers to identify and break into. To make your network more secure, create a unique name that does not includes any personal information like your name, birthday, or address.
What speeds can I get from my router?
An up-to-date router should be able to deliver the speeds that are promised as part of your broadband Internet subscription. If you are experiencing slower speeds than you are paying for, there could be a few reasons.
First, consider the number of devices using your network. If you are experiencing more traffic on your network than expected, the problem may be your broadband speed and not your router. If you have the right plan for your needs, however, the issue may be your router.
Can I improve the Wi-Fi connection on my router?
If you’re having trouble with your Wi-Fi connection, there could be a problem with the router. Some of the most common reasons you might have connection issues include an outdated router or interruption from other signals and devices.
To improve the connection from your router, here are a few things you can try:
1. Change the channel setting on your router.
Most routers have two channel settings, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. If you’re experiencing disruption, try switching the setting on your router.
2. Move the router.
Routers do have limited reach, and things like metal and brick can affect your signal. Try to place the router in an open, central area in your home that will have the widest reach. Avoid placing the router behind walls or cupboards as that can limit the reach of your Wi-Fi signal.
3. Update the firmware.
Just like software on your computer needs to be updated, so does the firmware on your router. Check for updates from your router manufacturer and perform updates when available. This will keep your signal strong and help protect your network from viruses and other security risks.
Routers are a crucial part of staying connected and maximizing your home network. Make sure you have the right tools to fully utilize your Internet connection.
As if the age-old struggle between centimeters and inches weren’t confusing enough, the Internet age has introduced a whole new set of measurements — and their abbreviations — to keep us scratching our heads. One of the most befuddling is the difference between megabits (Mb) and megabytes (MB). When you’re using the Internet, though, it’s helpful to understand what these terms mean and how they are related.
The Difference Between Megabits and Megabytes
At first glance, the most obvious difference between megabits and megabytes is the treatment of the “b” in their abbreviations. It may seem trivial, but that letter is actually a crucial signifier of what sets megabits and megabytes apart: in the simplest terms, megabits are smaller increments that make up a megabyte. Just like 12 inches make up a foot, eight megabits make up one megabyte.
However, there’s a bit more to it. While megabits and megabytes are both used to measure electronic communication and the transfer of data, they are typically used to measure different things. In general, megabits measure speed, while megabytes measure size.
Megabits: All About Speed
When companies advertise how fast their high-speed Internet connection is, it’s usually represented by Mbps — megabits per second. In this instance, megabits refers to how long it takes to download a file using the connection. The bigger the number, the faster you can download a file. A 100 Mbps Internet connection, for example, could download 100 megabits, or 12.5 megabytes, in one second.
Megabytes: All About Data Size
In general, megabytes are used to measure data and tell you how large a file is. You’ve probably seen its most common abbreviation, MB, when you send a file as an email attachment or download an episode of your favorite TV show. A typical MP3 download is 3.5 MB, while a movie can be anywhere from 1,500 to 4,000 MB.
How to Calculate Speed
While speed is displayed as megabits, you’re actually downloading or transferring megabytes of data. When you download a file, the speed at which you can download it depends on your Internet connection. Because eight megabits equals one megabyte, a file that is 5 MB can be downloaded in five seconds if you have an Internet download speed of 8 Mbps.
Calculating the Internet speed you need to download certain files can get tricky. Fortunately, you don’t have to break out your high school math textbooks to figure it out. Google has come to the rescue with a converter that calculates it for you. All you need to do is input the number of megabytes and this handy tool will automatically convert the number into megabits.
Depending on your location, CenturyLink offers speeds ranging from 20 Mbps up to 100 Mbps. That is more than enough speed for the typical Internet user, even if there are several people in one household who want to go online at the same time. However, if you need more speed, CenturyLink has rolled out new service in limited areas with speeds up to one Gigabit per second (Gbps), which is equal to 1,000 Mbps.
It’s good to know the difference between megabits and megabytes — especially when you’re selecting an Internet plan. Contact CenturyLink at 855-640-4510 and let us worry about the math so you can focus on getting the best plan with the right speeds for your household.