There are many great cloud storage and backup options available, so we will help guide you.
When choosing a cloud storage solution, there are a few things to keep in mind: Personal use vs business use, cloud security, document and photo sizes, pricing, and integrations / apps.
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About Cloud Storage
The growth of the online storage solutions has meant cloud backup options have come to replace traditional on-premise hardware thanks to economies of scale. Instead of the traditional “folder and file” storage system on a single computer (usually a local server or hard drive), cloud storage distributes that data across someone else's hardware (iDrive, pCloud, Google, Microsoft and many more).
There, in warehouse-like structures called data centers, millions of hard disk drives, solid state drives and even tape store hundreds of millions of gigabytes of content from all over the world.
You may not know it but you are probably already using one of the many cloud storage providers without even knowing. If you use Windows 10, Android or iOS, it's almost a certainty that somewhere out there, files that belong to you are stored automatically and safely on a server that belongs to either Google, Microsoft or Apple.
Given the multitude of cloud storage providers out there, one has to wisely choose a provider who will offer the absolute top value for money while still keeping your data safe and available when you need it.
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How Does Cloud Storage Work?
Believe it or not, the concept of cloud storage has been around for a long, long time. Amazon popularized the concept with its S3 (Simple Storage Service) launched in 2006 but the ability to upload and save files remotely on a service provider's disk drive can be traced back to 1983's Compuserve offer.
At the end of the day, you are simply using someone else's resources (part of whole of a hard drive, a solid state drive or even tape) to store your information.
That resource is usually located in a server housed in a data center (but not always) alongside potentially hundreds of others. The process is done over the internet over a secure connection via a dedicated app or via a web browser.
Almost everyone who has a smartphone or an email address has a cloud storage account of some sort. One might even consider Facebook to offer a limited version of cloud storage to its members as videos and photos can be uploaded free of charge to its servers.
Top Choices for Cloud Storage
- All-in-one office/cloud/workflow: Box, Google Drive, Nextcloud or OneDrive.
- Apple users: Dropbox or Google Drive
- Backup: iDrive
- Ease of use and multiple devices: Dropbox
- Google users: Google Drive
- Linux users: Nextcloud
- Users who place a high value on having data control: Box or Nextcloud
- Windows users: OneDrive
What Is Cloud Backup?
While similar to Cloud Storage solutions, Cloud Backup services can overlap with storage solutions. A few let you back up operating-system files and applications. Some back up smartphones and tablets.
Most can back up to a local drive as well as the cloud, and some let you share files with other people or provide file-syncing or dead-storage functions. And because backing up the entire computer for the first time can take days, a couple of these services even let you “seed” your cloud backups by mailing in a hard drive with your data on it.
But while some online-backup services let you back up an unlimited number of devices, and others give you unlimited online storage space, none of them gives you unlimited space for an unlimited number of devices. That would just be too good to be true.
One last thing: Cloud backup services aren't always the same thing as cloud-based file-syncing services like Dropbox or Microsoft OneDrive. Nor are they exactly like archiving services such as Amazon Glacier.
Usually, we back up all our data to an external drive or local network. These local backups are great for quick restoration. What’s disappointing is that they suffer from the very same risks that your computer does – malware, hardware failure, accidental erasure, fire, theft and the like.
On the other hand, the best online cloud backup services copy your entire data over the internet to remote servers at diverse locations. You’ll be able to conveniently access these secure off-site backups at any time from any place and restore them easily in a click or two.
Of course, there’s no reason not to do both – local and cloud backup – and be doubly safe.
The initial backup of your data can be hugely time-consuming. But thereafter, all your files are backed up automatically. The best online cloud backup services also allow you to send a physical device containing all your data for initial upload, and this can reduce upload time drastically. In the same way, they also allow faster restoration via a physical device shipped to you.
Top Choices for Cloud Backup
Sources: zdnet.com, techradar.com, tomsguide.com, codeinwp.com
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