Web hosting is changing our lives. Cloud hosting allows us to stream our music anywhere we want, have a near-infinite library of movies at our fingertips, always have access to our key documents and be in constant contact with friends and family.
The shift has been very gradual, taking place step by step over the past decade or so, but has now reached a tipping point where nearly everyone, regardless of their “techiness”, relies on Web-based storage for at least part of their lives; email is the most common example.
However many people, perhaps understandably, are wary of keeping their data in the cloud. They are usually concerned about online storage playing such a critical part in our lives; they urge caution and even outright avoidance.
The truth is that there are good arguments both for and against keeping our data in the cloud. We’re going to take a look at the five most common arguments both for and against using the cloud to store files and other critical information.
5 Reasons To Trust Cloud Hosting
Cloud hosting has a large number of potential benefits, too many to ignore. Moving data to the cloud is an appealing solution to many who want unlimited access to their content and have reliable Web access.
Some of the more common arguments in favor of the cloud include:
- Reliability: Cloud hosting usually puts data on multiple servers and often in multiple datacenters. This eliminates single points of failure, which is common when storing data locally.
- Security: Encryption is both cheap and effective, and many providers of cloud hosting services encrypt all or most data to ensure that it isn’t tampered with or snooped upon. Compare this to local data, which can often be easily retrieved by anyone with physical access or, if it’s transmitted via the Web at any point, by just listening in.
- Access: Having the data on your hard drive does you no good if you’re halfway around the world and can’t get to it. With mobile data networks, Cloud hosting of content makes access to your data much more reliable in many cases.
- Speed: Depending on the distance the file needs to travel and its size, it’s often much faster to transmit files via the cloud rather than using physical media. Flash drives are great, but are slow for getting a big file to your friend in another country.
- Responsibility: With cloud storage of files, backup, data retention and security are the responsibility of professionals and not the user, who is much more likely to make a mistake and cause data loss.
5 Reasons to Fear Cloud Hosting
On the flip side of the coin, cloud hosting brings with it a slew of new challenges and concerns that, in many cases, are yet to be answered in any meaningful way. Having your personal data stored on servers far away from you and transmitted to you over the Web can be a very unsettling experience.
On that note, here are some of the more common arguments against cloud hosting.
- Privacy: Having your data in the cloud makes it easier to track you. If you use Amazon Cloud Player, for example, it’s easy for Amazon to know what music you listen to. Everything on the cloud is tracked, at least at some level.
- Reliability: Though cloud hosting distributes your content across multiple servers, companies and services shut down all the time. You may not have a single point of hardware failure, but if your hard drive company goes out of business, you still have your data.
- Security: Though encryption may make it harder to access your data, if a stranger obtains your passwords, you’re in trouble. It may be easier to restrict physical access to data than control a password.
- Access: Having files stored in the cloud means you need Web access to obtain them; that can be a problem in many places.
As you probably have noticed, many of the arguments against cloud hosting of content are the same as the arguments in favor of it. Many of the benefits and drawbacks are relative to what you are trying to do with your content.
For example, if you routinely are in places without data access, cloud storage of content will have a serious access issue. However, if you are not near your computer or other devices a great deal, local storage will be much more limiting on that front.
As such, it’s important to weight your specific situation when determining if putting your data online makes sense and, if it does, what data you are comfortable putting there.
There is no blanket answer as to whether or not cloud hosting is good or bad. Rather, it’s a matter of whether or not it fits your needs and is right for you. Considering that every concern of either storage method can be mitigated against, it’s about finding a way for you to access your data that fits your lifestyle.
In the long run though, it seems likely that we’re going to be thinking of data less and less as being “in the cloud” or “not in the cloud”. The reason is because we’ll be relying more and more on hybrid solutions that try to take the best of both worlds.
Those services will have to overcome many of the questions and concerns that cloud storage solutions already face, such as privacy and licensing, but they will be able to avoid many of the situational problems, such as limited access.
In short, the current cloud/local dichotomy we have now is probabl just a stepping stone to a world where we simply have access to our data that comes from a variety of means.
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