Ever since “cloud” became a buzzword a few years ago, the number of online data storage services has steadily grown, and the price of cloud storage has recently declined.
These services — whether provided by specialised companies, well-established internet giants or device manufacturers — allow users to store up to several dozen gigabytes of data in the cloud for free, and even more with a paid subscription.
“Cloud computing” involves outsourcing data storage by transferring files and folders to a remote secure server. In addition to freeing up room on your hard drive, the solution offers a convenient way to synchronise data from different devices (PC, smartphone, tablets). Once used only by businesses, cloud storage has slowly won over ordinary consumers seeking simple solutions for managing personal data. Today the cloud is more popular than ever before.
Between 2GB and 50GB free storage
In addition to specialised companies such as Dropbox (2GB free), Cloudwatt and Kim Dotcom’s Mega (both 50GB free), all of the major software giants now offer online storage services. Apple offers storage through its iCloud (5GB free), while Microsoft invites users to store files on its Skydrive (7GB free) and Google offers its Drive (15GB free). Naturally, additional storage is available through each of these services with a paid subscription. Newcomers offering the possibility of storing even more data continue to enter the fray. Web hosting company OVH, for example, has introduced its HubiC service, which offers 25GB of free storage.
The world’s leading PC manufacturers — including HP, Lenovo and Asus — are also starting to sell virtual storage in the cloud. In addition, hard disk manufacturers are teaming up with specialised websites to complement their hardware with cloud storage offers. Western Digital, for example, has partnered with Dropbox, while LaCie has teamed up with Wuala.
Data security at the heart of the service
To guarantee the safety of data in the cloud in case of a crash, most services back up their files on multiple servers. In principle, however, only encrypted data is inviolable, as all other data in the cloud — like any data stored on any hard drive connected to a networked computer — is potentially vulnerable to a cyber-attack. As a result, it is important to pay attention to the storage conditions offered by each cloud storage service provider before choosing a provider and uploading data to the cloud.