With so much of work and personal lives revolving around computers, just about everyone has a surplus of data, and they all need somewhere to store it. But what’s the best option? There are few methods of storing digital data – either locally on the hard drive, optical drive, memory cards, tape drive or remotely with a third-party service. Both of the options have distinct advantages and disadvantages. Not all are enough technically sound to feel the present topic as basic. Knowing what points can help to choose the method that is best suited for your data may help to use smartphones to 2-in-1 laptops more efficiently. Here’s an in-depth look at the pros and cons of storing data on “the cloud” versus a hard drive.
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Overview of Cloud Storages
The concept of “the cloud,” also commonly referred to as “cloud computing,” was introduced in 2006, and basically entails storing data on the Internet, or more specifically, multiple data centres worldwide.
The Pros of the Cloud
Cloud computing has picked up a lot of steam over the past decade or so for two main reasons:
- Convenience – Because the cloud allows customers to store data on the Internet, anyone with a cloud account will be able to access their files from anywhere in the world, from any device. All they need is Internet access. That’s why cloud accounts have become particularly popular among people who travel frequently for work. We can divide convenience in to :
- Multi-device, multi-user support
- Mobile Device Support: An external drive usually requires a USB port on the device supporting USB OTG. It does not work with all the phones, even some tablets.
- Remote Access
- Peace of Mind – Storing data outside of a remote server means that cloud users can rest easy knowing that, even if their computer or laptop bursts into flames or some worst-case scenario occurs, their data will be unharmed.
- Ample Storage – Some websites that provide cloud computing services will allow customers up to 15GB of storage for free. To put that into perspective, that’s well over 1 million pages of documents! Additionally, when someone stores data on the cloud, they create more space for downloading software on their own device.
- Data safety – Most cloud services are more secure than a hard drive inside a house. An external drive can be easily lost or stolen, which makes it less secure. Cloud storage is a data storage where the digital data is stored in logical pools. The physical storage working at backend spans multiple servers in multiple locations. The enterprise-grade physical environment is more secure where physical access to your desktop or portable hard drive may be a risk. Also, different cloud storage providers can have rules of access, need private-public key pair making it not that easy to access faster by an intruder.
- Sharing — It is easy to share files with other users in a remote location. DropBox has been too famous for this purpose.
- Cost — It is much cheaper even if we take account of adding data backup/mirror and redundancy.
- Fail-proof – Cloud storage does not fail, unlike single spinning hard disk.
Lest anyone think that the cloud is Cloud 9, there are some disadvantages to consider as well:
- Slower Download Speeds – “Convenient” is often synonymous with “fast,” but that’s not always the case when storing data on the Internet. Sometimes cloud customers will need to have a bit more patience when it comes to accessing their files.
- Security Risk – Cloud security tends to be effective. It’s also constantly improving. But putting anything on the Internet is a risk, especially when considering how computer hacking continues to pervade businesses worldwide.
Overview of Hard Drives
For as long as there have been computers, there have been hard drives, or “local storage.” Using a hard drive entails storing data on a computer’s local server. There are two types of hard drives:
- The O.G. “hard disk drive,” or the one that looks like a small CD with a mechanical arm
- “Solid State Drive,” or “SSD,” a new device that pays more similarities to a microchip
More and more people are making the switch to SSD since its lack of mechanical parts enables it to run faster and smoother (although technology such as Intel Optane memory can help hard disk drive users achieve SSD-level speeds).
Hard Drive Advantages
Here’s why many people are content to stick with local storage:
- No Internet Connection Required – Because hard drive users store data offline, they can immediately grab it any time they want without having to rely on Internet access or wait out slow download speeds where public Wi-Fi is spotty or mobile internet is cheap.
- Massive Storage – 15GB of storage is generous, like buying someone a beer at the bar. But 2TB of storage is like buying someone the whole brewery. That’s the gigantic level of storage hard drive users get.
- Cost – Today, entry grade solid state drive not exactly too costly.
- Speed – It is really fast especially for transferring, accessing larger files such as RAW files of DSLR, unedited video files, Adobe Photoshop files, files related to data science, master backup of website/database etc.
Hard Drive Hardships
Despite being independent of the Internet and going far above and beyond the call of storage, hard drives can sometimes make things, well, hard for users too:
- Third Party Accessibility – When a hard drive user has their laptop with them, accessing their data couldn’t be easier. But when they don’t? Retrieving their data suddenly becomes a hassle. They also run the risk of forgetting to bring their hard drive with them to an important meeting. But no matter how forgetful someone is, they can’t forget the Internet.
- They’re Costly – While cloud accounts are relatively cheap, hard drives cost $100 at the bare minimum. And in some cases, the cost can even reach the thousands.
- Portability –It is not easy to always carry your external drive everywhere. A USB OTG cable required to connect with Android smartphones/tablets
Conclusion: Storage is in the Eye of the Beholder
Factually, both ways have different use-cases. External storage is faster and cheaper per byte, but it can be a hassle to carry it around. Cloud storage is usually more costly for high volume sensitive data. We have to pay a monthly fee but essentially we do not purchase the cloud storage – we pay the rent.
Both the cloud and hard drives have obvious advantages in distinct cases, but other times can leave users in a tight spot. Choosing the right option is about carefully considering your needs, access to Wi-Fi, and how sensitive the material you’ll be storing is going to be.