This is not an article meant to compare the advantages and the disadvantages of cloud storage. You already know what the cloud can do for you, but maybe because it’s so easy accessible and at hand, you might not be aware of the minuses that cloud storage presents. While you might be lured into the beauty and versatility of cloud storage, you should be aware of the dangers that it represents.
Storing all your data on the cloud or crucial information might not seem such a good idea. For example, I use a service like Passwd.io to safely store my passwords online, and other cloud services for different data. Not relying with a single cloud provider is a wise decision, if we’re talking about such well-established players in the market as Dropbox. I like smaller, more independent companies, but when it comes to cloud storage, I’ll go with Google Drive.
The perils of cloud storage
It’s unbelievable how much we’ve dependent become on the technology that surrounds us. Whatever comes new and helpful, we try to adapt to it and embed it in our daily lives. No way I would’ve stored all my photos in the cloud a few years ago. Now, it just seems to be the norm for so many, especially for the tech savvy users. But recent events such as Megaupload’s closure made me realize that even the cloud has to rely on something earthly.
Data servers can be hacked, broken, flooded
All the pictures that you upload on Facebook and elsewhere on the web are being stored on a server. Google has almost 2 million of them. The first disadvantage with the cloud storage is that those servers can always be flooded or be destroyed after an earthquake, fire or God knows what other catastrophe. Some professional cloud providers, such as IBM, have a back-up for your data, but others don’t, so it might be irretrievable.
Also, let’s not forget about hackers. If in the past hackers were being perceived as an amorphous blob, now they group themselves in cliques, gangs and action groups. Some of them are ethical hackers, but others are just cyber thieves. Dropbox, for example, has confirmed recently that they got hacked, thus reducing the trust of their clients. No matter how secure they claim they are, there will always be some hackers to outsmart them.
What happens if your cloud service stops the business or if it gets a huge lawsuit like Megaupload did? Or even worse, what if users are denied the access to their data? That might or might have not been included in the Terms and Conditions when you registered, but once a more important legal order is on place, there’s nothing you can really do about it, right? Megaupload was THAT big that they even hired music stars to promote their product. And it’s just dust now.
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But what happens if you’re living in Europe, yet you store your data on a server that is located in the United States. We have previously showed you how the NSA’s surveillance algorithms see into our lives, thanks to the US Patriot Act. So, sensitive data that belongs to you could be compromised because of that.
Terms of service
It’s not just me who’s being afraid of the perils that cloud storage presents. Recently, in an interview, Steve Wozniak said the following:
“I really worry about everything going to the cloud. I think it’s going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years. With the cloud, you don’t own anything. You already signed it away through the legalistic terms of service with a cloud provider that computer users must agree to. I want to feel that I own things. A lot of people feel, ‘Oh, everything is really on my computer,’ but I say the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we’re going to have control over it.”
And this reminds me of Twitpic’s and other photo sharing websites unbelievable terms of services – they can sell your photos if they want to! And as Steve puts it, you’re basically agreeing that once something’s on the cloud, it doesn’t belong anymore only to you. A part of it belongs to the storing company, and thus, it becomes susceptible to government’s actions. And who the heck has the patience to read the entire Terms of service, right?
Don’t keep your head in the clouds
And how does that compare to your own external hard drive or other solutions for file storage? What are the chances for the government to look at them or the hackers to obtain access? That’s why I advise you never to rely on cloud storage for all your data or sensitive data. For example, I combine cloud storage, external hard drive and even written paper for very important passwords.
And let’s not forget about the fact that you always have to rely on a stable and pretty fast Internet connection to access your files. And, of course, cloud storage doesn’t come in cheap, albeit there are a few free services that can get you up to 370 GB of free space. Be wise, combine the old with the new and be careful. If you have a cloud account, don’t forget to properly protect it. Security and privacy are one of the most acute issues of our time.