Cloud Storage

What is it…


Finding enough storage space to hold all the data that is acquired can be a real challenge to a computer user. Some people invest in larger Hard Drives. Others prefer external storage devices like USB drives or CD’s. Desperate computer owners might delete entire folders worth of old files in order to make space for new information. But some are choosing to rely on a growing trend: cloud storage.

While cloud storage sounds like it has something to do with weather fronts and storm systems,(contrary to what a certain Connemara politician thought recently, later revealed to be a hoax!!) it really refers to saving data (e.g. word documents, photos, music files etc.) to an off-site storage system maintained by a third party. Instead of storing information to your computer’s hard drive or other external storage device, (e.g. External hard drive) you save it to a remote database. The Internet provides the connection between your computer and the database.

Basically a cloud storage system needs just one data server connected to the Internet. When a computer user subscribes or signs on to a cloud storage service, copies of files are send over the internet to the data server which records the information. Then when the client wants to retrieve the information they access the data server through a Web-based interface (e.g. An Icon or simply layout) to retrieve the data or it allows the client to access and work on the files on the server itself.

Advantages of Cloud Storage

In many ways cloud storage has several advantages over traditional data storage. For example, if you store your data on a cloud storage system, you’ll be able to get to that data from any location that has Internet access using your smartphone, laptop or tablet. You wouldn’t need to carry around a Hard Drive or USB key or use the same computer to save and retrieve your information. With the right storage system, you could even allow other people to access  data, turning a personal project into a joint effort by a group of people who has access to the password of the cloud storage.  So cloud storage seems to be more convenient and offers more flexibility, but be aware, one issue with cloud storage is the concept of data ownership. Opinions vary on does it belong to the client who originally saved the data, or to the company that owns the equipment storing the date. What happens when a client goes out of business or no longer uses it? Who can delete the former client’s data?

Types of Cloud Storage

Cloud storage can vary from storing emails messages (e.g. Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo etc.) to storing digital images (e.g. Photos, video etc.). Computer users use cloud storage as a way to create backups of data or share folders.  If something happens to the user’s computer system, the data survives off-site. It’s a digital-age variation of “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

Cloud storage is increasing every day, not only the companies providing the storage but the amount of free and paid storage each company is offering seems to grow steadily. Many providers of cloud storage will probably be familiar to you even though you did not realize that it was cloud storage they provide.

Examples of some well-known companies that offer cloud storage:

Google Docs: users upload documents such as spread-sheets, presentations & word documents. Files can be edited using an application provided by Google. Documents can be published to allow other users to read and edit them which is called cloud computing.

Web e-mail providers as previously mentioned:Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo , etc. Store email messages on their servers. Users can access their e-mails from other computers etc. connected to the internet.

Flickr , Picasa , and Photobucket can store millions of digital photos. Online albums can be created to share the images.

You Tube store millions of uploaded video files on their servers.

Social network sites e.g. Facebook , MySpace etc. allow users to post pictures and other contents that is stored on their site’s servers.

CloudOn is a free app for the iPad and Android tablets.  It allows you to open, view, edit and create Word, Excel and PowerPoint files on your iPad.  What’s more the interface IS Microsoft Office 2010.  Therefore it really is Microsoft Office on your iPad!

The sites listed above are free to use while others charge a fee for a certain amount of storage, while others offer a certain amount of storage free but charge for larger storage. There are many more out there way too many to mention here, but some of the most popular are listed below.

TIP: Do remember that Cloud Storage should be only used for a back-up plan, still keep a copy of the documents on your home Pc or External Storage Hard-drive.  Technology after all is still prone to problems and always at the times we need it the most, Sods Law!

Other examples of Free Cloud Storage:

1, MEGA.NZ : New Cloud storage offering 50gb of Free online storage.   It’s available for Windows, Macs and Android and Apple mobile phones.

2.  OneDrive.   The service offers 15 GB of free storage for old users but unless you sign in it will be reduced to 5GB in 2016.  Additional storage is available for purchase.   It is part of the Windows Live range of online services and allows users to keep the files private, share them with contacts, or make the files public.  OneDrive is available to anyone by signing in with their Hotmail or email address and password.  A Desktop app is also available to download.

A bonus to using OneDrive is the availability to use the New and Improved Office Web Apps.  Once logged in check out the top toolbar and click on Create ,  a drop-down menu will appear with the options to create a: Word document, Excel workbook, Powerpoint Presentation, Onenote notebook and an Excel Survey all done on the cloud, in other words you do not need the programs on your computer once you have Internet access.  Multiple people in different places can work on the same document, at the same time.  Share only the documents that you choose, with whomever you choose, and set the rest to remain private.  All documents can be shared with your Dropbox, Google Drive and OneNote accounts.  OneNotes is also available for your mobile devices from Ipad, Iphone to Android.  

3. New on the market Amazon Cloud Drive: A few months ago, Amazon launched a cloud-based storage system. It scored a point over market leading Dropbox by offering 5 GB of free storage. The app will create a Cloud Drive folder on your PC. Now just copy stuff to the folder and it gets synced to the cloud, and also to any other PC on which you’ve installed the program. Did not noticed any apps yet for the iphone or Android to use it, but since its just a matter of logging in using your Amazon details its an easy matter to access in a browser.

The download, which works on all recent versions of Windows, is only 0.5 MB, which is clean according to VirusTotal. However, be aware that this is only a setup loader, which will then download another 61 MB of programs.

4.  Flipdrive: is another new cloud storage system on the market.  It also offers 5 GB of free  storage and it has an App for the iphone or iPad available from iTunes.  The app secures your data stored within your FlipDrive App by creating a four-digit passcode to open the application.  It also uses secure connection options to access and share critical and private data. Whenever this option will be turned ON, all data will be encrypted and transferred in a secure way. FlipDrive also lets you share all your data and control who has access to it. Share your files, photo albums, favourite sites, and any other data virtually with anyone. You chose which data to share and with whom.

5.  Dropbox account comes with 2GB of space that you can use for as long as you like and you can also earn up to 16 GB of additional free storage by referring Dropbox to your friends, 500mb at a time.  Dropbox can sync documents between all your computers whether they be Windows, Mac, or Linux, it also allows you access using your iPhone, iPod Touch, Ipad or Android phone . Con: files are not password protected on the computer. Dropbox has been criticized by independent security researchers who have argued that Dropbox’s authentication architecture is inherently insecure. On 20 June 2011, all Dropbox accounts could be accessed without password for 4 hours as reported by TechCrunch.

6. SpiderOak: Pros: Like Dropbox this free Cloud storage account comes with 2 GB of space that you can use for as long as you like,also if you referral you will get another 1 GB free. Again SpiderOak can sync between all your PC,s and smartphones with apps for Android,IOS and macs.

7. If you need more storage than 2Gb offered by Dropbox and you do not require mobile access, the 5GB of free cloud storage available with LaCie Wuala may be just the ticket. Along with syncing your files between multiple pcs and shared folders with friends it also has security by encrypting all files before they leave your hard drive.

8. Just tried Pogoplug. Free to use for 5 GB storage with a download link for a desktop backup that shows up under Computer like a thumb drive using the letter P . Also free mobile version for your smartphone or Ipad 2. Pogoplug lets you post your photos and videos to the most popular social sites with a single click. Your friends can watch your videos and view your photo albums instantly. You own your data, not the social networks. Free 5GB or upgrade to a 30GB, 100GB or 1000GB Pogoplug Cloud.

9. Get 5 GB FREE and browse your files on the go with Box provides simple, secure sharing from anywhere – letting users easily store files online, send big files fast, access content on their mobile devices, ipad and collaborate with others. Box has far more features than Dropbox. Box is geared towards enterprise businesses while Dropbox is streamlined for small business and consumer use.

10.  CometDocs is a very neat web-based system that allows you to store document files online. You can then convert those files to different formats, or make them available to others for sharing. If you need a web-based document conversion utility (Word to PDF, say), then it’s a handy system to use. And if you want to share a file with someone that’s too large for your email account to accept, then you’ll also find CometDocs indispensable.

11. Sync makes it easy to store, share and access your files from anywhere. Your privacy, guaranteed. Get started with 5 GB storage – always free, with the option of purchasing up to 2 TB.



More information on Cloud Storage can be found at this website: Real Simple/technology