A cloud service, or, “the cloud”, is a convenient way to store and retrieve files, documents and other media without the need for local storage. Local storage of course being the hard drive or memory of your computer or mobile device. When you need your files or media, such as pictures or videos, you can simply download them off the cloud and have access to them. Some services offer the ability to view your media without the need to download first, this is known as streaming. This can be convenient if you have, let’s say a 4 GB video you want to show somebody on your tablet, but you don’t have enough local storage for it. You simply stream it. The same can be accomplished with a folder full of pictures you want to show somebody, but don’t want to download them, or don’t have the space to download all that media.
The cloud is also a great place to store documents such as reports or presentations you are working on for the office, but want to polish the edges at home the night before the meeting. You no longer have to sit at the office looking for that memory stick with your work on it – the stick at home plugged into your PC. The cloud is a nice, convenient common storage place for all your files. With an Internet connection, you have access to all of your data.
Public cloud services use a redundant array of storage media, sometimes spread out across the globe, so there is little fear in losing documents. These places backup everything on a regular basis, so it is virtually impossible to “lose everything” – something many of us have had to face at one time or another.
So, what’s the catch?
A public cloud service is as good as the company or person running it. I’m sure most people have heard about the celebrities that had photos compromised from Apple’s iCloud? This happened because of the weak security in place by Apple. Of course one would need credentials to sign into the Cloud, but in this case there was a flaw that would allow somebody to keep sending password after password from a list until the correct one allowed access. Most services, as you know, only allow for three or four login attempts and then direct you to perform other actions before you can attempt a sign-in again. Apple allowed an infinite number of attempts without this intervention. So, as it turned out, somebody kept trying password after password until one worked. There was no intricate hacking involved, and virtually no skill involved, just a bit of ingenuity. This “oversight” has since been fixed at Apple.
Systems that contain customers’ information are generally very secure, but I think we have all come to realize that no system is 100% bullet-proof. Keeping this in mind it is usually a good idea to keep very sensitive material away from the internet. Documents that are personally, or financially sensitive should never be kept on a cloud – period. Some items for example may be pictures, legal documents, financial information, and scanned pictures of personal identification – and I have seen all these things at one time or another stored in a very insecure manner!
However, if you can follow those simple steps, cloud storage is a great thing. I personally use a few services to store documents on the Cloud. Here are some common services in case you are interested in using Cloud storage. It should also be noted that many cloud service also have accompanying computer and mobile apps to make access very easy. Many of these mobile apps have the ability to send pictures or video directly to the cloud as soon as you take a picture (or video) with your phone. You should really check them out if this is something that could benefit you.
|Google Drive||free||25 GB||https://drive.google.com/|