Online Data Storage
Cloud storage is THE huge invention in the 21th Century, it makes data accessible everywhere around the globe, it simplifies group collaborations and the best of all it’s free to use! In a World where everyone, owning an email account, get free cloud storage by default, it’s necessary to know the limitations and problems of this new technology as well. How is it possible for companies to offer free data storage without extra pay for their customers?
The great achievement online data storage brings into the daily life of the users are the possibility to access, edit and share their data whenever, wherever with anybody they want to. In an time where everybody owns an Handy, an Computer, an Smart TV and maybe an tablet, it's a huge benefit to have all data synced between them and not to be forced to mess around with USB-Sticks or Bluetooth. The only requirement needed is an stable Internet connection.
Witch lead us to a big problem with modern online data storage, you have to be connected to the Internet to be able to access your data. Whenever you are without cell phone signal, or cable connection, you aren’t able to demand your data. In times where data roaming (in the EU) isn’t a big problem anymore, it might see obsolete to think about being not being able connect to the internet. Still there are places in the EU where you can reach the Internet only with an really bad signal or in the worst case, where you can’t access it at all. An European Study showed that less than ⅔ (65,7%) of Germany covered with 4G.
Collaborations got a huge grain through online data storage as well. It's easier than ever before to work together on one single project, physically hundreds of kilometers split apart. It's even possible to work simultaneously on the same project with twenty people split across the world. Most of the storage provides offer version control as well, so every time someone edit a file, a new version will be created and in case something went wrong it's still possible to rollback to an older version.
Thinking about huge company's working together in collaborations it might become a huge nightmare if a project or sensitive customer data get lost. Since you can access your online data from everywhere and often sync multiple devices with the cloud, it’s an huge target by hackers trying to steal confidential data, like bank accounts, passwords or private holiday pictures to blackmail someone. It might happen that the attackers hit through the providers safety measures and delete, encrypt or share your confidential data.
For end consumer a huge question before using an product is the pricing. Most online storage provider offer free services, google’s “Google Drive” for example offers 15 GB to everyone owning an google account. In case you need more storage you are able to buy 100 GB for 19,99 €/year. So even for students running on low budget its possible to use the benefits the online storage offers.
The huge problem with free services on the Internet is, that somehow the company offering the service have to make money. So does Google, Microsoft and Dropbox. The most income is generated by business partners, witch pay the providers to use there services and gain extra support. Second, while using the service you give the company tons of data, with which device you connected when from where to the online storage, for example. As well, if your data is not encrypted, you give the provider full access to all data stored in the cloud. Toes data might be sold to other companies and for example you stored holiday pictures, might be analysed and you’d might get personalized advertisement.
When thinking about online data storage, its seems like it could solve all problems mankind have. But looking further into it, there still problems cloud storage might not solve. I personally really care about privacy and for me it's a nightmare someone else having full access on my confidential data. Therefore I recommend only store encrypted data in an storage cloud. The problem might be solved by services like OwnCloud or Nextcloud witch make it possible to easily host your own cloud service from home with only yourself access to it.