Pros and Cons of Cloud Storage: Is Cloud Storage right for your data?
Organizations want to ensure that their data is stored securely. Consequently, determining where to store that data, whether that is on-prem or in the cloud, is a critical decision. Cloud computing has gained significant traction in the storage space, with many companies now using cloud storage. However, as with all technology, there are pros and cons of cloud storage.
Possessing an awareness of the positive and negative aspects of cloud storage will enable you to make an informed, and ultimately, the best decision for your organization. In this article, we present the advantages and disadvantages of cloud storage services to help you with your decision making.
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What is Cloud Storage?
Businesses and non-profits are seeking practical and inexpensive means to store digital information, and cloud storage seems to be a preferred choice. However, to make an informed decision about Cloud storage, it is crucial to understand the benefits and pitfalls of Cloud Storage. Before we present the pros and cons of cloud storage, we must first understand what cloud storage is.
Cloud storage is a service model whereby your data is transmitted and stored on a third party managed remote storage system. Instead of keeping your corporate data to your computer’s hard drive or other local digital storage devices, such as a USB, NAS or SAN, your data is saved to an off-site storage infrastructure where it is maintained, managed and backed-up. Your data is made available to your users over a network, such as the internet.
While cloud storage has seen a steady increase in popularity, particularly amongst small and medium businesses and organizations, several concerns, particularly around security, remain.
While these concerns have been addressed by cloud storage service providers by incorporating data encryption, multi-factor authentication and improved physical security into their offerings, data privacy and security remains at the core of the security concerns amongst users.
Cloud data storage is usually priced on a per-consumption, monthly rate. While the per-gigabyte cost has significantly decreased in recent years, cloud storage service providers tend to add operating expenses, which can make cloud storage technology more expensive to use.
See also: SaaS vs. Paas vs. IaaS
Pros and Cons of Cloud Storage
Cloud storage services have gained significant popularity in recent years due to the many benefits offered over traditional data storage options.
However, each new technology has some benefits and drawbacks. Cloud storage is no different. Cloud storage is a good option and can save you money, time, and space. However, it also poses some security threats.
Presented below is an overview are the main pros and cons of cloud storage. Each of these advantages and disadvantages is detailed further in the article.
For most organizations, the positives of cloud storage far outweigh the negatives. Consequently, most businesses will strongly consider and even select cloud storage services for their organization.
Presented below are each of the pros and cons of cloud storage in greater detail. These positives and negatives will provide valuable insight to help you decide if cloud storage is right for your business.
Advantages of Cloud Storage
In this section, we explain 5 of the top advantages of cloud storage services.
Advantage 1: Disaster Recovery
In cloud storage, data is stored and backed-up in an external device, so there are minimum chances of system failure. Moreover, the data storage source is thousands of miles away from your company’s location. It means you won’t have to pay a massive amount for data retrieval. Cloud service providers automatically create a backup of your data. So, you don’t have to make a backup of data yourself. As a consequence, you save time and money while reducing stress.
Advantage 2: Accessibility
When you use a cloud storage option, your data is stored remotely, and you can access it from anywhere around the world. It is helpful when your team is located in a different time zone, or your work requires frequent travel. Moreover, cloud storage helps the collaborative process, particularly when your company’s team is spread worldwide.
Regardless of how far team members are, cloud storage makes it easy for them to log in and access other team members. Using a cloud storage option will not restrict you from working at a single place. Cloud storage will allow employees to work from abroad and home, accessing the data they need via the internet.
Advantage 3: Cost-effective
When you store data in the hard drives or other storage options, you need to pay for software licenses and updates. Alternatively, in cloud storage, everything is included in the monthly package. By using cloud storage, you don’t have to invest in expensive server infrastructure because the cloud storage company will provide it.
Moreover, you don’t need to hire a dedicated professional for this job because everything will be managed by an outsourced cloud Storage Company. You have to pay your in-house employees for sick-pay or holiday-pay, but it’s not the case with the cloud storage option.
Advantage 4: Scalability
By using cloud storage, you only pay for the data storage you need. In the future, when your business grows, the cloud storage company can accommodate your growth in data storage needs. You might have to increase the amount that you are already paying. On the other hand, if you see a downfall in your business, you can choose fewer storage options at a reduced rate. Almost all the companies offer scalable payment plans because they cater to all business sizes and needs.
Advantage 5: Automated Backups
Creating regular data backups and scheduling backups in a manner which do not hamper daily operations can often be an issue for some SMBs and organizations. Cloud storage technologies take a simplified approach to overcome this challenge through automation. Administrators only need to select which data they wish to backup, and the cloud storage service takes care of the rest.
Disadvantages of Cloud Storage
Digital storage solutions have quickly become the preferred medium for the storage of information. However, as with all decisions, it’s essential to consider the disadvantages. Presented below are the drawbacks of cloud storage.
Disadvantage 1: Lack of Control
Since your data is stored off-site and you can’t control that company, so it won’t be easy to customize your data storage set up. It might not be an issue for SMEs, but it can be a severe issue for large companies with complex storage needs. Cloud operators need to provide customization, but unfortunately, they lack this feature.
Disadvantage 2: Security and Privacy concerns
When you switch to cloud storage options, it means you’re handing your data to a third party. Before doing this, ensure that company is trustworthy and can keep your data secure. In the past, many cases of data misuse have been reported. For example, in 2014, due to security glitch in the system, Dropbox deleted all the confidential data of the customers.
See also: Ensuring data protection and privacy in the cloud and Getting started with data privacy: What is it and why is it important?
Disadvantage 3: Difficult to Migrate
Once you have started working with one cloud Storage Company and want to migrate to any other cloud provider, it won’t be easy. It is mostly the issue of medium-to-large sized businesses because they have complex data needs. If you have conflicts with that service provider and want to migrate to another cloud provider, it won’t be easy due to massive data and complexities.
Disadvantage 4: Internet-dependent
When you use a cloud option, your data is stored in an off-site location, and you can only access it by using the internet. In case your internet connection fails, it will lead to costly downtime because your business is heavily relying on cloud storage. Another possibility is a slow internet connection, and you have to wait for more time than normal to access your data.
See also: Choosing the right business broadband for your business
Disadvantage 5: Fixed Contracts
Many cloud storage providers try to trap you in a long term contract. In case your data storage need reduces, you still have to pay the amount according to that contract; that’s why it’s a severe disadvantage.
Estimating Cloud Storage requirements
Cloud storage has the potential to be incredibly beneficial for small and medium businesses, provided they are aware of the potential pitfalls. Cloud storage offers improved accessibility, disaster recovery, and cost savings.
While digital storage solutions, particular cloud storage, has grown over the years, so has the amount of data collected by businesses.
A plethora of cloud storage services are available, offering a wide range of storage capacities, features, and prices. But, how do you estimate the storage requirements for your organization without overbuying or under-buying a cloud storage package?
Presented below is guidance to consider when you estimate your cloud storage needs.
1. Collect data
The first step when estimating your Cloud storage needs is to ascertain how much storage is currently used by your organization’s digital assets. To achieve this, various storage capacity tools, which can be found online, may be used.
Using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, while crude, may be used to capture the total disk space usage currently in your company. A more efficient way your organization’s total disk space usage, is to use specialized tools. These tools also offer greater accuracy. Specialized capacity calculators are available online, usually for free, from storage vendors.
Knowing your current total data storage usage will help in determining a storage capacity baseline to support your Cloud Storage requirements estimations.
2. Determine your data storage growth rate
Once you have a baseline for your organizational storage needs has been established, you also need to determine what your future storage needs are. Consequently, the next step is to determine at what rate are your data needs are increasing.
The rate can be determined on either a monthly or an annual basis. Your growth rate could be extrapolated from historical data, such as log files, to assess how your storage capacity needs varied monthly, over the last 12 and 24 months.
Another vital step would be to consult with employees to determine if there are any planned business initiatives which are likely to affect future storage growth, giving rise to a spike in growth. However, bear in mind that change is not linear and can be difficult to predict.
Key points to understand the levels of growth which may affect your data storage needs are:
- Is your business planning any major IT upgrades within the next few years?
- Will the number of employees increase, and if so, over what period?
- Is your organization planning on expanding?
Also consider that as technology advance, the files sizes also increase.
3. Set realistic data storage goals
You should have enough information by this stage to estimate your Cloud storage needs. However, this doesn’t account for any cloud data storage capacity savings, which the last thing you have to consider.
Moving your data to cloud storage may seem beneficial for several reasons – however, how do you manage this as a long-term process?
Consider policies and practices that can be implemented to reduce cloud storage space demand or how to improve the efficiency of cloud storage usage. Practices to avoid data duplication and data archiving for data beyond a specific date can potentially provide significant savings in cloud storage capacity and cost.
Considering the Pros and Cons of Cloud Storage
Ultimately, you need to determine if cloud storage is beneficial for your business. Having reviewed the pros and cons of cloud storage, to establish whether cloud storage offers operational efficiencies and cost-effectiveness, you should now:
- Make a comparison of the one-off and recurring costs of purchasing and managing traditional in-house storage against the ongoing costs of cloud storage.
- Gauge if your organization need to improve their broadband internet connectivity to cater for the additional demand in accessing cloud storage. If you need to increase your bandwidth, ensure to include any costs as part of the comparison exercise.
- Decide if adequate security and data governance is provided by the cloud storage service.
- Implement in-house processes and procedures to maintain effective management of data and control expenses of using cloud storage.