Cloud Storage

What is Cloud Storage?

Cloud storage refers to the storage of online data in a cloud environment, which can include multiple connected computing resources. This typically involves physical storage like multiple servers, even in multiple locations.

The growing popularity of object storage also allows businesses to store enormous amounts of unstructured data in a pool with no hierarchy or organization. Object storage is one of the most flexible and affordable methods of storing large quantities of data. Block storage is more accessible if businesses need to make regular edits to their data. However, it’s not as scalable as object storage. Neither is file-level storage, which requires data to be structured and organized. 

History of Cloud Storage

It is believed that cloud computing was invented by Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider, an American psychologist and computer scientist, in the 1960s through his work on ARPANET, a very basic form of the internet.

Two decades later, in 1983, CompuServe offered its users small amounts of disk space, which could be used to store any files they wanted to upload including documents and images.

Then in 1994, AT&T released PersonaLink Services, which was a web-based storage platform made for personal and business communication. It was one of the first of its kind. 

However, it was not until Amazon Web Services introduced their own cloud storage AWS S3 in 2006 did cloud storage become more popular and widely used.

How Does Cloud Storage Work?

Essentially, cloud storage refers to the saving of data in an off-site storage location that is typically managed by a third party. Therefore, instead of storing one’s information in a company hard drive or other local storage device, one can save it in a remote database in a different location. The key here is that the internet provides the connection one needs to access one’s database from their computer.

Benefits of Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is one of the most efficient and convenient methods of storing data. Some of the major benefits of cloud storage include:

  • Data protection, backup, and recovery protocols
  • Greater accessibility and reliability for large amounts of stored data
  • Rapid deployment so that a business can more quickly move data to a cloud environment
  • Lower public storage costs because a provider manages the hardware and infrastructure

Disadvantages of Cloud Storage

The biggest disadvantage of cloud storage is the network slowdown it may cause. Internet networks may struggle with bandwidth if a user is accessing large amounts of data in the cloud. Cloud storage can also be expensive, depending on the provider, the services they offer, and the specific type of storage chosen. Cloud storage security can also be a concern, since data is spread so widely across networks and servers that it can be challenging to manage.

Examples of Cloud Storage

There are four general categories of cloud storage within cloud computing.

Personal cloud storage: This service is available to individuals through platforms such as Apple’s iCloud and Google Drive, through Gmail or Google Workspace. It is also known as mobile cloud storage. Personal cloud storage allows a user to access their data from any location and sync and share from multiple devices. Users can back up files in their personal cloud in addition to their primary method of computer storage.

Public cloud storage: This typically refers to storage as a service (STaaS) offered by cloud providers, where businesses rent public cloud space to store their software and application data. The cloud provider manages all of the hardware from their own data centers or virtual infrastructure. Different providers offer different kinds of data storage. One possible problem with public cloud storage is that providers may store the data in any location, which could cause high latency as data must travel farther across networks. Where data is stored can also raise compliance issues with regulations such as GDPR.

Private cloud storage: A private cloud is typically hosted on-premises in an organization’s physical location. Private cloud storage allows companies’ IT teams to manage the cloud and provides added security because they control all aspects of the network. Private cloud storage will have lower latency because the servers are right there, not hundreds or thousands of miles away. A few risks do come with having only a private cloud, though: backing up data can be more challenging, especially if it’s only hosted in one location. And disaster recovery is much more challenging to plan without multiple locations to store data.

Hybrid cloud storage: A hybrid cloud environment includes an organization’s private cloud storage and one or multiple public cloud environments. Because workloads can be deployed either in a distant public cloud or on the premises, hybrid cloud environments are often more flexible. Businesses can decide in which cloud to store their data depending on their needs. Hybrid cloud storage is a good option for businesses that need low-latency, on-premise data storage as well as storage for large amounts of data that they don’t use as frequently.

Cloud Storage Providers

Cloud storage providers are the ones that offer the cloud environment where you can store your files. Different cloud storage providers often offer different storage options (whether object, file, or block) from which businesses can choose depending on their data and needs.

Many cloud storage providers offer pay-per-use plans, which can help businesses better afford cloud storage. Although storing large amounts of data can become expensive, it’s still a valid investment for large organizations, especially if they are only paying for the specific amount of data they have actively stored. That saves organizations the upfront costs of purchasing hardware and any wasted storage space that is unutilized.

Some of the most popular cloud storage providers include:

  • IDrive
  • Dropbox
  • iCloud
  • Google Drive
  • Box
  • Microsoft One Drive
Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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