Cloud computing can basically be defined as doing work on your local computer, but storing the data on a server at another location. Before entrusting your data to someone else, there are 5 advantages and disadvantages you should consider.
Advantages of Cloud Computing
- Convenience. You can access your data anywhere you can connect to the Internet.
- Security. Most companies use industrial level security software and practices which make it harder for hackers to get at your data. That’s harder, but not impossible.
- Backups. You have a backup of your data in case your local computer crashes.
- Collaboration. With your permission, others can access, view, and modify your documents.
- Environmentally friendly. It takes fewer resources to cloud compute, thus saving energy. Some businesses take it a step further and incorporate cloud computing into their telecommuting strategies.
Disadvantages of Cloud Computing
- Security breaches. Remember, I said that remote server security makes it harder, but not impossible, for hackers to reach your data. If there is a compromise of the server(s) where your data is stored, your personal information may be exposed to the world. There’s also a good chance that more than just your information may be affected—we're talking possibly millions of other users.
- Outages. Have you ever been unable to access your email due to your provider being down? Now, imagine if you needed a document for an important business meeting or presentation and your storage provider’s site was down. Believe me it happens, and it happens at the most inconvenient times.
- Storage limits. While your local hard drive may be able to hold 500GB or more of data, unfortunately a remote server may only allow you to freely store about 5GB. If you want more room, you’ll have to pay. Still, even with a paid account, it can’t begin to touch the amount of room you have locally. There also may be a limit on the size of the data that can be stored.
- Slow speeds. Uploading and downloading of large documents may take a long time.
- Limited features. If you use remote software that’s provided by the storage service to manipulate and modify your data, it usually lacks the features of a program running locally.
I’m sure there are other pros and cons of using cloud solutions, but these are enough to make one seriously consider whether to remotely store or not. Do your research, read reviews, and compare prices so that you can be informed and make the best choice that meets your needs.