What exactly is “The Cloud” and Cloud Storage?
With the world advancing rapidly, handling and securing data is becoming harder. Recent reports reveal that 2022 had 15 million data breaches in its third quarter, which is 167% higher than the
second quarter. Further, the fourth quarter of 2020 saw approximately 125 million incidents of data breaches.
Such higher numbers are alarming, which increases the need for cloud storage in today’s world.
Cloud storage is a service model where users can store and manage data online. It offers various benefits over traditional storage systems, including data
accessibility anytime, anywhere, enhanced data protection, and unlimited data storage.
In the following guide, we will learn more about cloud storage, its working, types, and benefits over other storage options. We’ll also explore whether these systems include any risks and how to
So, without further ado, let’s start!
More on Cloud Storage
A cloud computing model lets users store their data on the internet. Users can access their files and data anywhere, anytime, as long as they have internet.
A cloud storage service is offered by a cloud computing provider who stores data, manages it, and maintains the system. The system supports both public internet and private network connections.
A network of servers, including a master management server and other storage servers, is used for cloud storage. The servers are all connected, so you may use them as needed and be charged
Because everything is stored on the internet, cloud storage offers a better approach than buying and managing a personal data storage infrastructure. Other benefits of cloud storage over personal
storage frames include agility, scalability, and durability.
So, How Does Cloud Storage Work?
As mentioned earlier, a cloud storage service is offered by a cloud service provider. A cloud storage service is typically operated in various large data centers across different locations worldwide.
In other words, cloud storage doesn’t store data in one place. Instead, it maintains large data centers for an increased data storage capacity. With data stored in different locations, it becomes easier to manage and secure it against cyber thefts.
Furthermore, because the data is stored on the internet, you can access it anywhere, regardless of where the “cloud storage” centers are located. You can access your data through a web browser, a web portal, or a website. Most cloud service providers also offer their mobile-friendly app to let you keep your files just a few clicks away.
Security is one of the most important concerns in any cloud storage, as anyone can assess your data if it is not protected. An ideal cloud storage model uses secure servers, infrastructures, and networks to protect the data against cyberattacks and theft.
Cloud storage also takes advanced measures to ensure only the owner accesses its data. These security measures include:
- end-to-end data encryption
- highly developed cybersecurity traits
- high availability features
- access control methods
- secure authentication protocols
Modern cloud storages use several security steps to ensure authentication. For instance, it verifies the person accessing the data using the following:
- hardware security keys
- recognized the phone as a security key
- mobile device push notifications
- SMS on sim
- voice calls with a code
The best thing about modern cloud storage is that you don’t need to spend a penny to use it. Users can use the free version to store their media and files in a limited space. Such features are most beneficial for small businesses or startups which still need to be fully established.
You can buy more storage from your cloud service provider if you need more space. Besides getting more storage, you can also update your cloud storage to premium features. This can include enhanced security, faster data delivery, offline media access, etc.
How Cloud Storage Stores Data?
Cloud storage has many types, and each stores data differently. Typically, there are three main cloud storage types:
- Block Storage
- File Storage
- Object Storage
Let’s explore each type!
● Block Storage
As obvious by its name, a block storage stores data in “blocks.” It is mostly employed in traditional SANs (Storage Area Networks) and cloud storage environments.
Because the storage system stores data in “blocks,” it organizes it into large volumes. Each data volume or “block” is an individual hard drive where files are stored.
In simple words, block cloud storage works by dividing massive data into large volumes called blocks. These blocks are connected by multiple storage nodes, which improves data transfer speed
Thus, block storage is faster over a network because of faster communications through connected nodes. This low IO (input/output) latency means you can get access to your data faster.
Block storage is most suitable for large businesses that deal with huge amounts of data daily. With a faster connection between the system and the user accessing data, block storage easily manages
pressure and multiple successful connections at a time.
● File Storage
File storage stores data in the “file” format, which is more organized and structured than block storage. Like the documents are arranged in different folders on your PC, file cloud storage stores
data in the hierarchical file and folder arrangement.
Where block storage facilitates quick data access, file storage makes it easier to find and retrieve the required files. Because everything is stored in an organized manner, users can go through
folders to access the desired file.
Some common uses of file cloud storage are development platforms, media repositories, and home directories. It is commonly employed with network-attached storage (NAS) and personal
computer storage drives.
● Object Storage
Object cloud storage has a different approach to storing data than block and file storage. It saves data as “objects,” which, unlike blocks or file/folder systems, feature units of data stored together.
Sounds confusing? Consider each “object” as a unit that contains the data stored in a file, its associated metadata, and an identifier. The object is stored in a file, but the files are not organized in
the hierarchical file/folder format (which makes object storage different from file storage).
Each object has associated metadata and an identifier, which serve as unique elements to differentiate one object from another. An object’s metadata can be customized, which helps recognize
different objects in the storage.
Block Storage vs File Storage vs Object Storage — Comparison
The following is a quick comparison of all three types of cloud storage to help you easily remember their primary differences!
|Features||Block Cloud Storage||File Cloud Storage||Object Cloud Storage|
|Saves data in units||Blocks||Files||Objects|
|Suitable for transferring||Transactional data,
Frequently changing (updated) data
|Metadata support||Fixed system attributes||Fixed system attributes||Custom metadata supported|
|Limitation||Scalability||Scalability||Not suitable for quick data change|
Is Cloud Storage Better Than Traditional Storage Systems? Benefits of Cloud Storage
Cloud storage is important today because it offers a better alternative to traditional storage options. Unlike old times when users had to buy more than one personal storage system, it offers an all-
in-one infrastructure to save data.
Problems With Traditional Storage Systems
Traditional storage systems such as magnetic discs, hard drives, DVDs, and even modern USBs no longer meet modern requirements for the following reasons:
If you buy personal storage, sooner or later, you will run out of memory capacity. Even though modern storage devices like USBs are far easier to use, they still have a limited capacity.
Higher Associated Costs
With traditional storage options, you will be investing in multiple devices at once as long as you need to store data. This means buying new storage frequently and paying more for higher-storage
Complex Storage Management
Further, managing physical storage systems is hard. You cannot check instantly which files are stored in which drive or disk. So, it takes double the amount of time to plug in the device to your PC
and go through the stored files to find the required one.
Time & Place Constraints
Another problem with these storage systems is that you cannot access data anywhere or anytime. You must have a PC, laptop, or a compatible system to access your files.
Hard Data Transfer
It’s hard to transfer data from one storage system to another. Even if you use USBs, you need a PC with at least two USB portals to move data. Moreover, it becomes even more complex if you are
trying to move data from a USB to your mobile, as it would require a USB-A or USB-C cable.
Increased Risks of Data Failure
Traditional devices are at risk of failure, which can result in the loss of all the data stored on them. You may not know if the laptop you are attaching your USB to has any viruses. Other times, your
storage device can be intentionally infected, causing loss to businesses due to data failure.
Risks of Getting Damaged
USB flash drives can break easily if they hit a hard surface. They also get corrupted in contact with water or dust. Even if you take great care of your USB, they will wear out with time, increasing
the risks of data loss.
Benefits of Cloud Storage Over Traditional Storage Systems
Cloud storage offers significant benefits over physical devices, as discussed below:
● Cost-effective Approach
First, all your data is stored online, so there is no need to buy and keep a physical storage system. It also means no buying hardware, managing storage, or investing additional money to meet
● Easily Data Transfer
You can instantly update performance and retention parameters, add or remove storage space as needed, and only invest in the storage that you use. You can also automatically transfer data to
less expensive storage as it starts to be viewed less frequently, which will result in even higher cost savings.
Further, data transfer between online storage doesn’t require physical systems, like a USB cable or a laptop.
● Unlimited Space & Several Storage Packages
Online storage also features unlimited space, saving you from the hectic running out of storage now and then.
You can enjoy the free version or pay a small amount to access different cloud storage plans (such as 100GB, 200GB, 2TB, and more).
● No Physical Damage
If you own more than one device, you need to manage and protect your storage systems. However, the best thing about cloud storage is that everything is stored on the internet. You don’t need to
worry about protecting your data against water or dust. An online space cannot fail even if your phone gets damaged, unlike physical storage that can break.
● No Risks of Viruses
USBs are more vulnerable to viruses or malware. You also need to back up your data from time to time. If not, your files remain at risk of bugs, and you may lose them forever.
● Time & Place Support
With cloud storage, you pay only for what you need. You can access your files anywhere, anytime, by using a web browser or a mobile app.
● Higher Collaboration Support
Cloud computing significantly improves the productivity of a business’ work operations. Employees can collaborate on a much wider scale, enabling several users from various departments to
access the required data.
Also, with cloud computing, businesses can create a multi-region infrastructure accessible from any location worldwide. Users can access data, edit it, and update it without taking complex
measures. This encourages more effective team cooperation and helps businesses develop.
Scalability is one of the key advantages of using the cloud. Many companies in the growth stage have used the cloud to address their bandwidth needs.
Scaling your growing business will require significant hardware, networking, and software license investments if you primarily operate on-premises infrastructure. However, cloud services can
grow or shrink based on customer needs.
● Advanced Security
Your data also remains secure as these cloud storages use advanced security measures to verify the person accessing the data. If the system detects unusual behavior, like failed login attempts, it
notifies you immediately. It also asks you to take security measures like changing your password to protect your data.
Are there any Cons of Using Cloud Storage?
While cloud storage has countless advantages, it also comes with a few risks. However, note that these risks are not cons, as it depends on which cloud storage you use. The more advanced cloud
storage you choose, the safer it will be.
So, let’s explore some of the risks associated with cloud storage:
- Security Risks: As said earlier, data security can make or break a cloud computing system. It’s because the entire purpose of using cloud storage is to keep your data secure and managed in one place.
Businesses hesitate to switch to cloud storage because once you upload data, you get little control over where and how it is stored or managed. If you use a cloud storage system with less-advanced
security, you may risk your data against cyber attacks. Further, sometimes risks are also associated with free cloud versions, which makes an upgrade necessary.
- Data Access: Using cloud storage means quickly accessing data anytime, anywhere. However, sometimes, it can take longer than expected due to many reasons, such as:
- Too much data on space
- Many people accessing the website at the same time
- Outdated cloud storage service
- Cost: Another important con associated with cloud storage is the cost. Sooner or later, you will need to upgrade your free account. Besides, businesses might also need features such as quick data transfer or upgraded functionality. These additional features and space come at a price, sometimes higher than a business’s budget.
How to Consider the Right Cloud Storage for Your Data? Features of Ideal Cloud Storage
Cloud storage has several benefits over traditional storage systems. However, they also come with some risks, which you should avoid by keeping this in mind:
- In contrast to the continuous expenses of maintaining and using data in the cloud, weigh the one-time and regular costs associated with internal purchasing and handling storage space.
- Find out if additional telecommunications costs are necessary to provide the right access to the supplier.
- Assess the data safety and governance offered by the cloud storage provider.
- Create an internal cloud security plan with protocols for accessing and using cloud storage to ensure efficient data management and keep costs under control.
Also, look into the security level provided by cloud storage. Ideal cloud storage gives you complete control over your data’s whereabouts, who can access it, and which services you can use at any time. The data should be secured with end-to-end encryption in ideal cloud storage.
Cloud storage is the ideal solution for storing and handling data. Whether for an individual or business, these systems are equipped with advanced security, built-in features, and a user-friendly interface.
However, you should research before selecting a cloud storage system for keeping your data. An ideal computing system will feature enhanced security measures, such as end-to-end encryption and secure authentication protocols to protect data.