Life in the digital age has countless advantages. We carry around an increasing amount of knowledge of the ages in a pocket size device. We have the ability to take care of a wide variety of routine takes such as turning on lights, locking our doors, checking on our pets and making a shopping list based on the contents of our refrigerator. We can listen to our music, watch our favourite programmes and movies and talk with friends worldwide, anytime and from anywhere. We can keep track of our health, our finances and complete work tasks by clicking an icon.
Technology advances at such an exponential rate that the computers double their abilities every twelve to eighteen months; that means that in five years technology will be thirty-two times more advanced. This opens up a world of unlimited potential.
In the not too distant past, most of us had one device. Now a large majority of use have multiple devices including smartphones, tablets and laptop computers. We expect and often need, access to all of the files on any of our devices.
In order to accomplish this, we need access to a server and storage facilities. Users have a choice between traditional and cloud-based technology.
Cloud Storage vs Traditional Storage
Each platform has its own pros and cons. We will now take a look at both for you so that you can weigh up the options:
- Pros of Cloud Storage and Cloud Hosting
Cloud based solutions are becoming more and more the norm. There are a number of compelling reasons for using a Cloud Hosting system.
- Scalability – the system can be adjusted easily as the user’s needs change.
- Performance – cloud systems are typically updated to take advantage of new technology quickly. This typically delivers the best performance.
- Maintenance – Very little maintenance is required by the individual or company using the service. This is something that is especially important for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
- Usability – Cloud service feature the ability to drag and drop files between devices.
- Bandwidth – Cloud servers and hosting can save bandwidth and data usage. For example, instead of sending emails with attachments, the information can be placed on the Cloud and shared instantly.
- Accessibility – Information stored on the Cloud can be retrieved from any device from anyplace as long as there is an internet connection.
- System monitoring – Most cloud providers include constant system monitoring which alert maintenance and users of potential problems before they occur.
- Cons of Cloud Storage and Cloud Hosting
- Security – This area is somewhat subjective but many IT professionals consider the cloud less secure since it relies on third parties to protect data.
- Access time – Cloud based servers are generally slower than traditional methods.
- Data Retrieval – If the system fails, it is impossible to retrieve data.
- Usability – Users need to learn to effectively use the system. For example, using the drag and drop function is convenient but also removes the file from its original location. This means a copy of the file is not retained.
- Bandwidth – Some cloud providers set bandwidth limits. Exceeding those limits can be costly.
- Accessibility – Data is not accessible without an internet connection.
- Software – In order to complete some tasks, such as editing data and documents and viewing specific types of files, an appropriate app must be installed on each user’s device.
- Pros of Traditional Storage and Hosting
While the Cloud is becoming the predominant service, traditional servers and hosting are preferred by a number of business and individual users.
- Security – Many experts feel that traditional servers are more secure than Cloud based systems.
- Speed – Data access is faster on a traditional server.
- Access – Access to data does not depend on an internet connection.
- Bandwidth – There are no bandwidth restrictions or limitations on a traditional server.
- Data Backup – Backups are typically held onsite and therefore make disaster recovery easier. Physical backups are often located in multiple locations or remotely which then adds an extra layer protection in the event of catastrophic failures.
- Growth – It is relatively easy to add more storage capacity.
- Cons of Traditional Storage and Hosting
- Costs – Typically the cost of setting up a traditional server is higher.
- Deployment time – Traditional servers can take a significant amount of time to configure and launch.
- Maintenance – Maintenance for traditional servers is often done in house and requires more time than cloud-based services.
- Performance – Traditional systems require more time to update and to implement new technology.
Some of the pros and cons concerning the two platforms are somewhat subjective. Uptime reliability is a major concern for users of either system. In general, both platforms have exceptional reliability. However, some experts advise against using open source or free cloud services to avoid potential service disruptions.
Deciding which system to use requires some thought and planning. Here are some of the questions you should ask in order to help you to choose the right system:
- What are the tasks I want to accomplish?
- How likely are my needs going to change? Will new users be accessing the data? Is it likely that I would need to increase the size quickly?
- What specific applications do I need to use?
- What type of disaster security is in place and what do I require?
- How secure is the system?
- Do I need to compartmentalise access to certain files and folders?
- What type of remote access do I require?
For many small and medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs, such as bloggers and freelancers, cloud-based storage and servers are most likely the best solution. Cloud based storage and servers can also be used by individuals who wish to access entertainment libraries (music, movies and eBooks) or large photo libraries.