Cloud storage is the (distant) future

Cloud computing is trending throughout the technology industry, but the cloud storage aspect is a long way from being a viable alternative to local disk storage

By - August 5, 2011
Flyffy clouds

Storage in the “cloud” sounds like a great idea. Having all of your data stored in a safe, secure environment, complete with redundancy and 24/7 access appeals to everyone from aunt Joan who wants a safe place for her holiday snaps, to Dr. Rick, CEO of a multinational company. However, cloud storage won’t take over from local disk storage for a long while yet.

Local vs. Cloud storage

Speed: Swift access to data is important for many people, and here cloud storage loses out. Keeping data stored on local servers means its immediately available for use, there is no waiting to log onto the cloud system, and there are no extended download times dictated by internet connection speed. Even in first world countries, internet lines can’t yet match the speed of local storage technologies like the Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) connection interface.

Redundancy: Cloud storage wins here, though not by much. Redundancy is essential to mission critical information, and a welcome feature for the average user. Cloud storage would offer this as standard, saving time compared to setting up local storage redundancy. However, it still suffers from the same vulnerabilities, such as physical damage. A data centre could fall victim to damage from natural causes such as an earthquake or fire, or victim of corporate sabotage.

Access: The biggest downside to cloud storage is access. If you are not online, you have no access to your data. Local data can be accessed regardless of connectivity; and can also be accessed in an area where little/no connectivity is provided, which is often the case in countries such as South Africa.

Cost: Local storage is an initial once off fee, whereas online storage is a monthly recurring fee. There are hidden costs for both, and it depends what your needs are. With local storage, you have to invest in the drives themselves as well as a redundancy structure in case one or multiple drives fail. With the cloud, you have to invest in the monthly storage fee, as well as the internet access fee, as well as the backup internet access in the event that your primary connection goes down.

Cloud storage is certainly a part of future storage solutions. However, it is currently a developing technology, and has an utter dependence on internet connectivity, which is often too slow in first world countries, or fails to cover a wide enough scope in developing and third world countries. For the foreseeable future, local storage seems to provide the best of option to those who intend on storing data.

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