Not sure what cloud backup is? Here we explain everything you need to know about this data storage solution.
Online backup services for business have been available for a long time but were initially expensive and complicated. The Cloud backup services now becoming popular are aimed at both business and consumers. Many start-up and established companies like Microsoft or AVG are providing cloud storage.
Life with Cloud Backup
Cloud storage begins with accessing the website of the provider and signing up for an account. The newest wrinkle in the scramble for customers is providing free 2GB to 5GB accounts with somewhat reduced services compared to a paid plan. Some of these are worth exploring but far too many have no security at all and should not be considered. A piece of software may be installed on your desktop to manage synchronization, like SugarSync does, and regardless the folders that are to be backed up need to be selected and the backup commences. Ideally backing up takes place automatically every time a file changes anywhere in the selected folders.
Advantages of the Cloud
Cloud backup works for the service provider and the user because it is flexible. An account may be signed up for 20GB or many terabytes but the provider does not need to set aside that space exclusively for the specific account. Only what is in the account is stored, the rest of the space is used for other purposes until it is needed. This allows for quick additional storage for companies whose web sites are suddenly flooded with orders or requests of any kind that would have overwhelmed a traditional, fixed set of file servers.
Required Elements for Safe Storage
Ideally cloud storage involves these elements:
- Easy web based access to data from any computer, tablet or phone that can access the Internet
- Synchronization of files whenever a device is turned on, if changes are made from an iPhone, Blackberry or notebook then when back at home and the desktop computer is turned on those changes are updated
- Geographical redundancy is essential, which means that the cloud company has facilities world wide and in fact there are 2 or 3 copies of your data world wide so that a power shut down or natural disaster at one site does not mean the loss of data
- Sufficient security is provided to files both in transmission and storage, this involves at least SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) protocols or better (AES, Blowfish or Twofish for example).
The already established companies like DropBox, SugarSync, Mozy, Elephant Drive, or Microsoft's SkyDrive provide some assurance that the data being stored with them will be there for a long time or, at least if the service is going to be cut, there will be plenty of time to retrieve data and organize another storage space. Well financed start-ups like Mimedia should not be ignored since they may be offering storage at better rates combined with more services.
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