We all know someone who has experienced the stress and anxiety of losing an important document. Whether it’s from spilling something on your phone or having your laptop stolen from the back of your car, the loss of important files can be just as stressful as losing your actual device.
Luckily, technology continues to advance, and we now have numerous options for storing and backing up our files through the use of the cloud. This allows for individuals and businesses to keep data stored so that it can be accessed and modified later.
What is Cloud Storage?
Cloud storage is a means of maintaining files (such as documents, photos, and sound clips) on an online platform that can be accessed remotely with Internet connection. Basically, a user can send (and retrieve) information from the computer to an online storage platform. Once data are in the cloud, selected users will be able to modify it as needed, promoting ease of group collaboration from individuals in virtually any location with access to WIFI. 
One of the main uses of cloud storage is data backup (in the event that something happens to the original computer or file). Cloud storage can be utilized for organizing and keeping track of large amounts of information, especially information that may need to be updated by several members within a group. 
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Cloud Storage
For the most part, cloud storage has been very effective and advantageous for both businesses and individuals. It offers peace of mind for ensuring that important files will not be lost in the event that something happens to the original computer. Being able to access the files from any computer in an easy, efficient manner saves time and allows for the possibility of remote work, as needed. 
Additionally, one of the advantages of cloud storage is the ability to keep data secure by limiting the users who are able to read or edit the files. Data can be easily moved on the cloud. In many cases, this prevents the need for physical filing cabinets that can take up a lot of space in the office and may even be hard to navigate. This is also great for the environment, as it requires less printed paper and also reduces energy consumption. 
While using cloud storage has its benefits, there are also drawbacks as well. Many cloud storage systems offer a set amount of storage space for free, but anything past this amount comes with a price tag. This can get expensive if the amount of files continues to grow and requires ongoing storage over time. 
An additional risk to using cloud storage is having a potential data breach in which your information is leaked to individuals whom were not granted access. Individuals looking for a good cloud service should ensure that the service provides data redundancy and security. With cloud storage, only people who have been granted access should be able to view or edit your stored files. 
Recommended Cloud Storage Options
Choosing the right cloud storage platform depends on the types of files you want to store and the amount of storage needed. Many individuals can get away with utilizing a cloud storage service without having to pay, so long as the amount of storage you need aligns with the amount offered for free from the service. 
One of the most popular services is Google Drive, which provides 15 GB of free storage. Google Drive is convenient because many people already utilize at least some of the Google services, including Workspace, Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, Google Photos, and of course, Gmail. Google Drive offers easy integration of documents of different types, but it does come with a drawback in terms of privacy. 
Another commonly used cloud service is Microsoft OneDrive, which offers 5 GB of free storage. This service is particularly accessible to individuals who already have a Microsoft account. In fact, Microsoft 365 users will have access to 1 TB of free storage. This storage service is known for its ease of use, as it automatically backs up Microsoft 365 files. 
The next popular cloud service is Apple iCloud, which is automatically utilized with Apple devices. Apple iCloud comes with 5 GB of free storage, with the option to upgrade the amount of storage for a very reasonable fee. An advantage of Apple iCloud (for individuals using Apple devices) is that users will not need to do anything special to “open” an iCloud account. 
In particular, iCloud is a good service to utilize if you are storing a lot of photos, as it will automatically organize them efficiently. Furthermore, iCloud offers added security in that it uses 2-factor authentication. On the other hand, one of the drawbacks of iCloud is that it is only accessible to users of Apple devices. 
The next cloud storage option, Sync, comes with 5 GB of free storage; however, you can get extra GB by referring other individuals to the service. This allows for you to earn up to 20 GB of free storage. A benefit to Sync is that it is accessible for different types of files, and there are no limitations on the size of the files that can be transferred. Like iCloud, Sync includes 2-factor authentication. Sync also offers end-to-end encryption to keep your files safe and private. 
Lastly, Dropbox is an additional cloud storage service that comes highly recommended. Dropbox is an excellent choice for people who need to save different types of files. It offers 2 GB of free storage, with options for syncing with your computer. Dropbox is easy to use and can be accessed from any computer (or phone), so long as you have your login information. 
Whether you need to back up files from your personal computer or you run a business that needs to keep secure records, cloud storage can be a useful tool for you to manage, organize, and save your information. When searching for the cloud storage service that will be the best fit for you, consider the types of files, the amount of files, and the ease of access for individuals who will need to revise or edit the files. Cloud storage users can rest easy knowing their important files are safely protected and backed up in case of theft or accident involving their electronic devices.