Cloud storage explained

By Anthony Caruana | April 5, 2013

We hear about the cloud all the time and its importance to business, but what is it? Let's take a look at some of the intricacies of cloud storage services.

Your computer, whether it's a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone, has some form of storage built into it. That storage is used to retain your files so that when you turn your computer off, your files don't disappear.

Over the last few years, external drives have become very popular. We typically connect these drives to our computers via USB, although there are other types of connections, such as Firewire or Thunderbolt, that can be used depending on your computer.

More recently, a different kind of storage has emerged. Rather than having the storage either built in or directly connected to your computer, service providers let you access storage over the internet. This is called cloud storage. In effect, the internet is like the cable that connects your computer to the storage.

One of the things to consider is that you might not know exactly where the storage you use is. The servers that provide the storage might be in Europe, North America or Asia. If you're using a cloud storage service to store important information, make sure you read the terms and conditions carefully and make sure you understand your legal obligations if you plan to store customer information there.

Cloud storage services offer several benefits over local storage. If you use multiple computers or devices, you can access the one file storage system from all your gear. For example, if you have a desktop computer and laptop, you can have the files stored in the cloud and automatically synchronised to each computer. That way, all your changes appear on both computers automatically.

Also, if you need to share files with customers and colleagues, cloud storage makes it easy. Rather than having to send files as email attachments, you can send secure links to files so that the receiver's email isn't cluttered. It also gets around limitations that are often imposed on the size of files that can be sent or received by email.

Cloud storage services can solve many common problems. They can make it easy to access your files wherever you are, overcome the problem of sending large file attachments and simplify the task of keeping your work synchronised between your desktop computer, laptop, tablet and smartphone.

Are you using a cloud storage service or can you see a way that it could resolve a problem you've been struggling to overcome in your business? We'd love to hear from you in the comments.


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