Local Data Storage vs. Cloud Storage

There’s an ongoing debate: which is better, local data storage or cloud storage?

Both have definite advantages, but they bring with them a few disadvantages as well. For business owners, it can be a particularly difficult question since there are some misconceptions out there about what cloud storage does and the best practices for keeping data safe. To help sort this out, here are some of the advantages of both types of storage and how they affect the security of your business.

What Is the Cloud?
There’s a popular saying that goes: “There is no cloud. It’s just someone else’s computer.” While this sums up the essential concept of the cloud decently, it’s not exactly accurate. Yes, the essence of cloud storage is that data is stored on another machine instead of your local machine, but the reality of cloud storage is a bit more sophisticated than that.

Cloud storage providers use banks of identical servers to host data for their customers. These servers aren’t running standard server operating systems with administrators monitoring them or issuing commands; all of the servers run software that is completely automated, making them all functionally identical and causing them to work in sync so that each is essentially part of a larger storage system.

This “system” is what the cloud is; data is uploaded, and the synced automation stores and retrieves it without any additional human intervention. The data can go on any specific server in the cloud and it won’t matter since all of the servers work together as a part of the whole.

Backups of all of the data may be stored in the same cloud as well, ensuring that everything can be recovered even if an individual server goes down.

Advantages of Cloud Storage
Cloud storage is very popular right now, and you’ve likely seen a lot of ads pushing you to move your data to some cloud storage solution. Before you choose a provider, especially a low- to no-cost option, read the service agreement thoroughly. Some services may harvest data from your storage to drive advertisements; others reserve the right to decide if your data is offensive, and therefore may remove content on a whim. However, if you can find a service that has a service agreement you’re comfortable with, cloud storage can have several advantages over local, including:

  • Access to data and files from anywhere, usually from any device.
  • Automatic syncing of files to ensure that the most recent versions are available to anyone with access to your cloud storage.
  • Protection against local hardware failure and data loss.
  • Scalable storage as your business grows, saving you the cost of adding more storage solutions or migrating your data to a new server.
  • Elimination of maintenance costs, as any maintenance or upgrades are performed at the expense of the cloud storage provider and are not billed directly to you.
  • Depending on the cloud provider you choose, there may be other advantages as well. But most of the advantages offered by cloud storage providers fall somewhere along these lines.

Advantages of Local Storage
When someone talks about the advantages of cloud storage, they often leave out that local storage has a number of significant advantages as well. Here are a few of the benefits that local storage provides:

  1. Faster storage, as no upload to an external server, is required and data storage speeds are not affected by internet bandwidth or daily upload caps.
  2. Greater storage capacity as compared to cloud storage, as adding up to 6 terabytes (6,000 gigabytes) or more of storage space is as easy as installing a new hard drive or plugging in an external drive.
  3. Increased security against data breaches or other internet-originated attacks versus an internet-accessible cloud storage server.
  4. Greater control over data access, since you can physically ensure that data is available only to certain individuals.
  5. Complete control over backup procedures, allowing you to back up files locally, to a separate local storage space or even to a cloud solution that you use to back up specific data.

Which Is Best for You?
Deciding between cloud-based storage or local storage typically means looking at the specific needs of your business. If your primary goal is to save money or you have a number of large expansions planned in the coming years, then you might lean toward cloud storage. If you have large amounts of data to store and process or are concerned about data security, the speed and added protection of local storage might be for you.

You might also follow the example of many businesses and opt for a hybrid solution. Many companies use cloud storage for files and other data that benefit from easy access while keeping internal data and any files that require greater security on a local server that is not easily accessible from the internet.

The Safest Storage Possible
Within the last couple of years, cloud security mishaps have led to massive problems. For example, in 2017, over 14 million Verizon customers had account details exposed as a result of faulty security in the cloud.

The cloud can be an amazingly useful tool, but steps must be taken to keep important data secure. Even with local storage, data leaks can still occur if bad guys get access to your facilities. Fortunately, with the proper security practices, you can keep data safe both on local storage and in the cloud.

Solid encryption tools like our DataVault protection are the first line of defense against those who would steal your data. Strong encryption ensures that even if your data is stolen, the purloined files will be unreadable to anyone who shouldn’t have access to them. Combine this with smart security practices and being selective about what you trust to the cloud, and you can help ensure that your company’s data is safe.

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