Data is a valuable commodity, and its safekeeping is foremost on our agendas. We need our data at our fingertips, and we need it fast. We need to keep that data secure and available, so what is the best way to keep it safe and available? Today, technology offers two choices for data storage. There is cloud technology, and local hardware solutions to choose from, but which do we choose? First, let’s start by defining both methods of data storage.
The Hard Drive
A hard drive is a traditional hardware storage device where your data is saved on a hard disk. Hard disks are both internal, built in your computer, and external, a separate and movable unit that can be attached to any computer or device. They are sealed in air tight cases, and can take a good deal of abuse. Data storage on a hard drive is sold in bytes.
However, most storage is now sold as terabytes, and we can break cost down the even further. Today, a terabyte for an internal hard drive costs about $25.00, and for an external hard drive it costs about the same. It is a one-time cost for the hardware, and the drives can store up to 10 terabytes of data on each unit. A computer can hold more than one hard drive, and each computer can host some external drives. Hard drives allow for easy redundancy through backup systems. Hardware storage is safe, and the data is physically at your business location, or in the case of an external drive, it is where you take it.
The cloud is a massive cache of warehouses housing computer servers all over the world. The idea is not new, and it is somewhat similar to the old mainframe days with dumb terminals. Instead of having a hard drive at your physical location, you are uploading your data to a center that located across the world. In fact, your data is most likely in several places across the world. If a server fails in New Zealand, your data is still safe in the Dublin, Ireland servers. Redundancy in data storage is a very good thing, and we will revisit redundancy in a little bit. The cost of cloud storage is cheap, and Google Drive will sell you 100 gigabytes of storage for $1.99 a month. There are many more companies to choose from, so a bit of shopping is in order before purchasing. Prices range from Google, the lowest, to $19.99 for a terabyte of storage with Apple’s iCloud service, so the costs are usually recurring on a monthly or yearly basis. However, you are at the mercy of another company’s IT experts and subject to their outages.
With cloud storage, security is left in the hands of experts, which requires less technical knowledge at your physical location. However, the cloud storage is also more vulnerable to hacking. Hackers like to target systems that will get them in the news. The experts who run these systems though, are the very best defense against hacking available. The cloud is a simple system that allows for data access anywhere in the world, through any device, and you don’t need to worry about comparability issues. Cloud storage also allows multiple users to collaborate on the same document at the same time.
The answer rests on what fits your business needs because each have redundant resources to ensure the safety of your data. If your data isn’t highly sensitive, and you have a lot of collaboration, then cloud storage is a good solution. But if your data is of a more sensitive nature, and updating a single document by many users at the same time isn’t as important, then the hard drive solution is the best option.
However, when it comes to data storage redundancy is the name of the game, so a savvy business owner may just opt for both solutions.