Does Cloud Storage Work?
THE BENEFITS OF CLOUD STORAGE
Cloud storage clearly must be part of your disaster recovery plan. It accomplishes the task of keeping your data stored in an encrypted state off premises. However, depending upon how much data you have, uploading your files to the cloud, can take a long time. Also, if you let your account lapse, all of your stored data will be deleted. While it is good to know that your data is deleted rather than stored, once it is deleted, it is permanently deleted and cannot be recovered. Keeping in mind that the best backup plan involves using every viable method of data storage, cloud storage cannot be your sole source of data backup but should be one of them.
Before you use cloud storage and especially before you choose which cloud storage provider to use, you should consider the following about cloud storage:
1. The data is stored only as long as you keep your account status active. Upon closing of the account, all of your data is permanently erased. So, if you intend to use this method, you must be prepared to keep you online cloud accounts current at all times.
2. There are many plans available and their cost depends upon the amount of storage you will use whether they admit that or not.
- iDrive.com charges an annual fee based upon the amount of storage space you will use, but they allow you to save up to 3TB of data to an external hard drive and send it to iDrive for them to download it onto their servers. They will do this once per year for free and as many times as you wish for a modest price of $59.99 per time. iDrive.com is the most comprehensive and versatile service, offering all expected backup services including the ability to backup multiple devices, the ability to sync and share data, the ability to upload and recover data from online or from door step to door step. The service is priced based upon the amount of storage you desire.
- JustCloud.com offers you an unlimited storage plan, but does not allow door step to door step download. All storage must be uploaded online. Furthermore, JustCloud’s “fair usage” policy will consider uploads of 500 GB within a short period of time to exceed fair usage. JustCloud.com is the most reliable and secure storage, using Google Cloud Storage Servers which utilizes a geo-redundant data replication system (meaning all data is replicated to multiple data centers around the world whose locations are kept secret). The Google Cloud Storage Servers are located around the globe and are monitored 24/7 and have a 99.99% always on service. Google Cloud Storage boasts they have never lost a single file and they guarantee a 99.99999999% chance it will stay that way. However, JustCloud’s marketing creates a lot of confusion with the consumer and the overall price depends upon the options chosen by the consumer, which creates further confusion. For this reason, JustCloud has generated a lot of complaints from consumers. However, we believe that if you know up front what you are buying with JustCloud, this service is certainly a viable choice because of its safety.
- BackBlaze.com offers true unlimited storage, but all data must be uploaded online. The average consumer is limited by maximum upload speeds of about 2 Mbs or less. This means that depending upon how much data you wish to back up, it can take weeks, months or years of continuous backup to get all of your data stored on the cloud. BackBlaze.com is the cheapest service and offers true unlimited storage and recovery. This is the best buy for those who want to true unlimited storage and recovery at the least possible price. It does not offer many extra services and it does not save your files at multiple locations.
3. Many people complain that they uploaded to the cloud only to find out later the actual data did not transfer and was not in fact stored. You can find this type of complaint with all providers. This is true of any backup whether online or local. You must perform the backup and then you must verify that the backup was successful.
4. The company you choose could develop financial difficulties resulting in a bankruptcy, going out of business or disappearing in the middle of the night. Let’s face it! You really have no idea how solvent the company is that is storing your data. That is why you do not want to rely solely upon these providers.
As an example, I have to tell this personal story to drive home this point. Back in 2007, I hired a company to build a website for my law office. They did a great job. I paid to have the site hosted with them. From 2007 until 2014, my service was seamless and flawless. Then one day in 2014, I was getting emails bounced back from this account. I contacted the company and found out their host provider had moved from one state to another without any warning (literally a move in the middle of the night). Threads began online discussing what had happened. It turned out the host provider was having financial difficulty and decided it was best to protect their assets by moving them to another state. No one knew if they were ultimately going to get their website data back online, fearing that the company had disappeared in the night. Fortunately, it came up within the week. After my company gained control of the data, they moved to a different server (good move). I am still with this company.
The point here is that you can never rely on just one method of backup and especially on one company. Furthermore, you cannot expect to be able to blame your manufacturer or service provider in the event of catastrophic failure. If your only source of backup goes down, you could lose all of your data and no blame game can bring it back.
5. The storage providers can be hacked and information can be stolen. However, since most of the reputable cloud storage services encrypt data in transit and in storage using the highest industry accepted standards of encryption, the likelihood of this occurring is slim. I could not find any valid report that anyone has every hacked the data stored in cloud storage other than by first hacking the password of the consumer from third party sources to gain such access.
6. Assuming you will read customer complaints about cloud storage providers, let me explain how to view these reviews. Most of the complaints come from consumers who had unrealistic expectations of the service they purchased. They either expected to be able to back up enormous amounts of data for free at blistering speeds for free forever, or they did not adequately verify their data was backed up in the first place. The complaints about some companies making it difficult to cancel the service may or may not have merit. You will have to judge those on a case by case basis.
In my review, I determined there are many unfair complaints against the cloud vendors by customers, but there certainly are valid complaints including that every vendor can do more to better communicate with their customers and to make their websites and software easier to use and less likely to malfunction or create confusion.