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What is Cloud Storage and How does it work?

What is Cloud Storage? Where is Cloud Data Stored? There are high chances that you’ve already used the cloud, even if you didn’t know at that time. Webmail clients like Hotmail and Gmail, Banking apps too use the cloud. Media sharing services like Flickr, Instagram, and YouTube also use the cloud. Do you how does it work?

Using the power of the internet involves Cloud computing to outsource the tasks that you might want to perform on your computer. Which may vary from simple storage to complex development and processing to a remote network of machines.

Back in the old days, companies used to buy computing infrastructure based on what they might for the next couple of years. They tended to over-buy because they were afraid of what would happen if they underestimated demand, and sometimes due to less demand, the equipment sits around idle. Also, business software is expensive.

Cloud computing saves time, space, and a LOT of money by allowing businesses to run essential programs and applications through the Internet. Like the way you pay for utilities like gas and electricity in your home, billing works for cloud services; it’s pay-as-you-go. The cloud is also very flexible.

What is the cloud?

Cloud is a collection of networked computer hardware that works together to provide computing in the form of online services that exists in far-flung data centers, which you access via the internet. You need to control it via web interfaces but you can’t touch the hardware itself.

Virtualization is one of the central features of the cloud. Virtual machines are created with software that the computing power, memory, and storage of a given machine are subdivided into multiple smaller units, each running their operating system. This virtualization allows sharing of computer resources and divide across the cloud.

What is Cloud Storage?

You have probably heard the word cloud storage at least once ( if not you’re most definitely living under a rock ). But what exactly is cloud storage? Cloud storage is off-site storage that stores data on the Internet, maintained by a provider who manages and operates data storage as a service.

Cloud storage safely and securely saves the user and sends files to a remote database or data server so the user doesn’t have to store their data and files on their computer hard drive or another storage device. This stored data is then accessible through a web-based interface and can be retrieved anywhere anytime. 

Users can ultimately maximize efficiency by sharing resources over the network and services. You don’t need to carry a physical storage device or use the same computer to save and retrieve your information. With the right cloud storage system, you could even allow other people to access the data, turning a personal project into a collaborative project.

Cloud Storage Comparison for 2021

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How does Cloud Storage Work?

Cloud storage is usually purchased from a third-party cloud dealer who owns and operates data storage capacity and delivers it over the Internet in a pay-as-you-go model. There are thousands of different cloud storage systems. Some have a very specific focus, such as storing digital pictures or Web e-mail messages. Other storage systems are available to store all forms of digital data. Some cloud storage systems are small, while others are so large that the physical equipment can fill up a whole warehouse. The facilities that maintain and operate cloud storage systems are called data centers.

A most basic level cloud storage system needs just one data server connected to the Internet. A user sends copies of files over the Internet to the data server, which then saves the information. When the user wishes to retrieve the information, they can access the data server through an internet-based interface. The server then either sends the files back to the user or allows the user to access remotely and use the files on the server itself.

Cloud storage systems usually rely on hundreds of data servers and it’s important to store the same information on multiple machines, this is called redundancy.

Cloud storage users never worry about running out of storage space. They use cloud storage as a way to create backups of their precious data. If something happens to the user’s personal computer, the data survives remotely somewhere else off-site on the cloud.

Where is cloud data stored ?

The answer is data centers. Anything that you run through or upload to the cloud exists on storage volumes and dedicated servers housed in vast warehouses, often situated on-premises full of such warehouses. The Cloud service providers own the Data centers and are responsible for keeping the servers up and running.

The job of all data centers is to keep your data physically safe from theft and destruction. Once you’ve put your data in the cloud, it may be physically stored in many different cities, countries.

To ensure that your data won’t become inaccessible in the event of a natural disaster cloud providers make multiple copies of the data in different servers. The physical location of stored data is irrelevant to the majority of people since it can be called together over the internet almost instantly.

Types of Cloud Storage

The different kinds of cloud storage architectures provide different types of cloud solutions. They are the public, private, and hybrid cloud. Each business has its own unique needs, and these three different types of cloud storage solutions provide similarly unique benefits.

Best Free Cloud Storage

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Public Cloud

Examples of public cloud providers are Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3), IBM Cloud, Google Cloud Storage, and Microsoft Azure. You’ve most likely heard about them.

The provider manages all of the hardware and software from their data centers and delivers it as a cloud service. This is a cloud service that can be accessed online by anyone you authorize and requires little administrative controls.

Public cloud storage is like living in a large apartment building.  You and any other businesses or people using their service are the tenants and the provider is the landlord. Similar to the utility payment model, Customers generally pay on a per-use basis. Provider offers lower prices for Shared resources. Since regulation compliance and infrastructure investments are of better quality, you benefit from sharing the resources of other businesses.

The public cloud provides other several advantages:

  • Highly scalable
  • Cost-effective
  • Highly reliable
  • Expert monitoring
  • No maintenance

Private Cloud

it is hosted by in-house storage resources deployed as a dedicated environment protected in an organization’s physical location. Private cloud storage will have lower latency because the servers are on-premises, not hundreds or thousands of miles away.  Internally hosted private cloud storage provides easy access and added security for business users. Private clouds are appropriate for users who have stringent data security or performance concerns or would need customization and more control over their data.

The cloud used by one person or company is a private cloud. Larger businesses with mission-critical data to have more administrative control requiring additional security like financial institutions, government agencies, or healthcare organizations use a private cloud solution. The private cloud infrastructure comes in two formats, either on-premise or with a third-party vendor.

The private cloud offers numerous advantages:

  • Highly scalable
  • Highly efficient
  • Better security
  • Customizable

Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid cloud is a mix of private cloud storage and third-party public cloud storage services. It offers a unique type of cloud storage and offers the advantages of both.

It provides increased flexibility in terms of features that can be customized to meet your needs. Businesses can freely decide which cloud to store their data in depending on their needs.

Most businesses use the public cloud for certain less important data to store on a public cloud. On the other hand they might need a private cloud for storing most critical data like secure data logs. A hybrid cloud solution combines both public and private clouds which saves time and money in an efficient storage environment.

The hybrid cloud offers many advantages:

  • Greater control
  • Highly customizable
  • Cost-effective

Features of Cloud Storage

Where is cloud data stored?

Collaboration tool: You’ll want top-notch tools when you need to share and edit files with your team. Collaboration features may vary by service. The best services allow users on any device in multiple ways, including via direct link and email to share files with an user. 

Flexible storage capacity at an affordable price: Each business has unique storage needs. Small business owners are most likely looking for a cloud storage platform with ample space at a reasonable price that can accommodate data from few employees.

To make their customer’s experience both reliable and efficient, Cloud storage providers offer several features and capabilities.

File archiving: Older files are automatically deleted and replaced by their newer versions without File archiving. It doesn’t overwrite your old older versions so that you can retrieve the old copies later. File archiving will keep a copy of each, regardless of the number of previous versions.

Automatic sync: Whatever you save to your cloud on one device will be accessible on all your devices. Services with Automatic syncing capabilities will update your files to reflect any edits you make in real-time. Most of the hosting companies already have implemented syncing functionality. Because that could be a major problem if you forget to sync your files as your backups won’t be always up-to-date.

Reliable tech support: Technical difficulties always occur when it comes to your daily business’s operations. Customer help and technical support services always vary from service to service.

Cloud Storage Vs Cloud Computing

Cloud storage involves copying data on hardware that is in a remote physical location and can be accessed from any device via the internet. Clients instead of storing files on their hard drives, send files to a data server maintained by a cloud provider.

A good example is Dropbox, which lets users store and share files. The simplest system might involve just one. But Cloud storage systems generally bound hundreds of data servers linked together by a master control server.

Cloud computing also similarly involves clients connecting to remote computing infrastructure via an internet network. But this time, infrastructure include shared processing power, software and other resources.

This allowed users to harness the processing power of a vast network. It powers our familiar services like Gmail & Facebook.

Cloud Storage Vs Online Backup

Cloud storage is putting information into the cloud from your laptop to one offsite safe and secure centralized location. It is like an external drive in an offsite location and can access your files from any device and share with others. When the sync turned on, your infected files on the laptop may overwrite the cloud data.

In most cases it does not backup automatically and required manual entry of the files you want. That’s one of the noticeable drawback.

This is where cloud backup kicks in.

Cloud backup: also known as online backup is specifically designed for making copies of your files and ensuring regular backup automatically. It also offers an easy way to restore your files.

Backup services offer multiple file versioning and ensure privacy by encrypting a user’s data with a password. You’ll be able to track the changes made in the file and recover the version before it got infected.

Differences between Cloud Storage and Cloud Backup

Cloud storage is designed to reduce your hard drive space and makes it easier to access files from any device. It’s designed in a way that you can restore files completely in the event of data loss.

With cloud storage, you must manually select each file that you want to store in the cloud. Cloud backup services save and sync files stored on your computer automatically.

Cloud backup providers usually encrypt your files both on transfer and on storage and are serious about keeping your data secure. But files can only be encrypted on the server-side with most cloud storage services, making the data transfer process less secure.

Advantage & Disadvantage of Cloud Storage

The advantages of Cloud Storage:

Bandwidth: Cloud storage uses the bandwidth effectively by sending a web link through email instead of sending whole files to recipients. 

Security of Data: Cloud storage helps in protecting the data against the malwares that will look beyond the locally infected computer to the network for shares that have documents and files to encrypt.  

Syncing and Updating: Every cloud storage provider offer the sync feature. Data syncing across all devices will happen whenever there is a change in the data.

Scalability: You only pay for the amount of storage you need or use of cloud storage. If your business experiences grow or shrink, the cloud vendor can adapt according to your data storage needs.

The disadvantages of Cloud Storage:

Dependency on Internet Speed: Cloud-based storage is dependent on having an internet connection. In a situation, if you find yourself somewhere without internet, you won’t be able to gain access to your files.

Dependency on a Third Party: A third party service provider handles the data. Security standards becomes an important pre-requisite in selecting a vendor.

No Control over Data Storage Framework: It’s managed and monitored by the provider thus customer has no control over it.

Support: Support from cloud providers especially for the free version of cloud storage isn’t the best.

Which is best cloud storage?

Are you looking for the best cloud storage? I’ve covered it most extensively in another article. Please read this in-depth review and recommendations of the best cloud storage providers.

Cloud Storage Comparison for 2021

Is Cloud Storage safe?

The cloud is very helpful and may promise to lift the burden of our day to day ever-increasing data storage needs, but how do we know that our data is truly safe with a cloud provider we entrust it to? Reliability and security are our two biggest concerns and what measures do they take to address them?

Cloud providers store backups in multiple locations and make multiple copies of the data you upload. Standard features of data centers consist of systems that detect smoke, suppress fires and provide emergency power.

These locations are guarded, reinforced, and protected to prevent intruders from damaging or stealing the storage hardware.

They protect your date from theft by authentication processes to limit access. Even though, passwords can be hacked; as often it’s the service provider who holds the encryption keys to your data, Rogue employees could access it.

Conclusion

In the last decade, cloud services have gained so much popularity in the software industry. This provides us an innovative method to maintain and manage our content. Anyone can store their data securely on an online location for a nominal monthly fee, without worrying about space. It is easy and convenient to upload and download your files with the help of the cloud.

You and anyone whom you allow can access the data from any device as they are secure and safe. No matter whether it’s a small or big business, now every tech company has its cloud service. Everyone requires cloud service to store data and it holds the potential to change the complete concept of storage and communication because data is the next power weapon.

Despite concerns about the security of cloud storage cost savings, accessibility, and disaster recovery are more valuable than the associated risks that is the good outweighs the bad. Prepared for anything that may come your way in cloud storage!

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