Exploring the Safety of Info in the Cloud

Cloud storage has become one of the most popular tools in recent years. Instead of taking up room on our hard drives, we can simply access kind of a 'virtual hard drive' located on the web, and just transfer our files to this online storage location.

But many doubt the safety of this new tool. They say that even the transfer of data between our computers and the online sources who receive them can leave us vulnerable to all kinds of hacking attacks. Not to mention that, once in the cloud, who says our data won't be compromised by a hacker attack on a cloud service?

The truth is that cloud storage carries with it many myths that, if not debunked could cause users to miss out on the many benefits of storing data in this way.

The Cloud Can Be Easily Hacked

This is probably the most common myth about cloud storage. Some say it isn't private, secure or reliable. But this is what experts say is based on the old perception that anything stored outside of a user's computer likely isn't safe, and as such, its security and privacy should be questioned. While this is true, possible billions of transactions have and are occurring in the cloud as we speak. Think online banking, renewing your driver's license online and making purchases via a site like Amazon.com.

When you think about it, the bigger risk is storing all of your information in one location, such as your computer's hard drive. Should that hard drive fail, there may be no way to retrieve that information. This is one reason why computer technicians are always stressing the importance of storing your data in more than one location.

With a cloud service that has been well managed, the data you transfer to it can ultimately be safer, more secure, and - believe it or not - more private than your personal home computer.

When In Doubt, Ask

If, despite knowing the privacy and security facts, storing your data in the cloud is still making you squint, then there are some questions you can ask your potential cloud storage provider before you sign up.

The first concern should always be how the company will handle your data in the event of certain circumstances, such as when you decide to cancel your service with them. It's important to know whether the company will be deleting your information at the same time you cancel, or whether it will continue to be stored on the company's servers. Checking the FAQ's of a cloud provider's site will usually answer these questions.

Knowing where your files are hosted is another important question to ask, less so for home users than business customers. Those businesses conducting their affairs cross-border may be subject to the laws of the hosting location.

Don't Forget These Other Benefits

What fans of cloud storage like best is the fact that they need only pay for the storage they plan to use. Imagine if you could have a 500 GB hard drive, but only pay for the 100 GB you were going to use!

Another advantage is the fact that when you store data in the cloud, you don't have to be involved with any of the maintenance or repair issues that a home computer can be the site of. Instead, you can rest assured knowing that the cloud provider's team is on the job.

Deciding whether cloud storage is something that's right for you will be your decision. But in order to ensure that decision is an educated one, thinking about your needs as a computer user, along with your feelings about online security in general are two good places to start.

Keeping an open mind is another suggestion. Just because cloud storage is an incredibly popular way to store data, doesn't mean it's free of flaws. You may not experience the same speed of transfer with a cloud-based service as you would when you transfer data on your own computer.

Guest author Jodi Grant writes on a variety of topics, particularly related to technology.  She helps consumers locate internet service in their neighborhoods by providing a unique and helpful way of comparing providers online.