Managing the Risks of Cloud Storage
I had a friend who doesn’t work in IT ask me, “When I put stuff in the cloud, where does it go, and how safe is it?” For those of us in the IT field, asking where stuff goes seems like a silly question—but whether it’s safe is another issue.
There are advantages to using cloud storage, especially for those who move about a lot and want access to the various pictures, videos, and other data they accumulate on their mobile devices. It allows access to a large amount of information that may exceed their storage. And people can grant direct access to the information to those they trust, without the tedium of attaching images to email or messages.
The accumulation and sharing of things is fine; but what if the cloud evaporates? Failure is something I find most cloud storage users do not even consider. Over the last several years, there have been numerous instances of problems with cloud services, including the inability to access the information for long periods, unauthorized access to personal information, corruption of information, and even once of a vendor going out of business on short notice.
This brings us to the question, how do I manage the risks associated with cloud storage?
When managing and storing information you consider important, the cloud is a reasonable place to do that, but you need to realize that, as with a personal computer or any other device, it needs to have a backup (or more than one, for critical information).
You can make copies of critical files on DVDs or CDs. Although these solutions have limited capacity, they are relatively cheap and are easily duplicated for extra protection. One copy can be kept at home and the other at a secure location, such as a safety deposit box.
Another option is an external hard drive. Many of these drives also come with software that allows you to manage the backup process. This is a very reasonable option, as the price of storage has dropped considerably over the years. Several of these external backup systems can be configured for remote access, creating your own personal cloud.
The simple fact is that cloud storage is still computer-managed storage, and it is subject to all the possible failures that entails. You are placing your information in the hands of total strangers; their care may not be the same as yours. Yes, they have a stake in ensuring your information is safe, but those systems are still managed by people and are still computers.
Whether you are in IT or not, to manage the risks in cloud storage, you need to be diligent in protecting your assets. A little local protection can go a long way.