Let’s face it, hard drives fail. Phones will die. What happens to all your important files if the unthinkable happens? You won’t have to worry about that if you backed them up with low cost cloud storage options!
Even if you don’t know what the “cloud” is, there’s a pretty good chance that you already use it. From saving word documents on your computer to snapping photos on your iPhone, many of our devices now come integrated into the cloud. Popular websites like YouTube and Netflix have it built in, so accessing them means you are also using this technology.
The Basics of Cloud Storage
Put simply, Cloud Storage is when your stuff is saved somewhere other than your own electronics. Instead of taking up space on your laptop or phone, those files are kept on a huge device that is specifically designed to store large amounts of data.
When you need your files, you use the power of the internet to connect to that storage. Although it does sound a lot more complicated than just keeping your information saved locally, there are many good reasons to use the cloud.
Reasons to Use the Cloud
1. Data Backup
For many people, data backup will mean saving the endless amounts of memories they have stored in photos. Imagine if you woke up one day and your phone just disappeared. All of those pictures would be gone forever.
That is, they would be gone if you weren’t using cloud storage. By having copies saved on a server, those photographs will always be there no matter what unfortunate mishap happens to your smartphone.
The same applies to documents or other work data saved on your computer. Having backups of your important stuff means having access if your PC breaks and won’t turn on. With some services, they’ll even save multiple versions of your files for extra redundancy.
2. Replaces External Hard Drives
Small thumb drives are easily lost, and larger external drives can be cumbersome. Having the cloud means extra storage wherever you have access to the internet. It’s certainly much more convenient than carrying yet another device on a daily basis. In fact, this point leads directly into the next one, which is…
3. Remote Access
This doesn’t just mean being able to access your files no matter where you are. You’ll also be able to use any device you want. A file you were editing on your phone will be accessible from your home computer. Suppose you were writing a document on your PC and wanted a change of scenery. Instead of having to manually move your files using a flash drive, you can just bring your laptop to a coffee shop and continue where you left off.
This is achieved by letting the cloud sync your files. You can actually use the cloud without syncing if you really wanted, but it’s definitely more convenient with the feature on. Anytime you make a change to a document, that new version is saved automatically to the cloud. Once you install the cloud app on every device you want access from, your files will be kept up to date with the latest version. Without it, you would have to download and re-upload your stuff as you go.
4. Easy Sharing
Cloud storage allows you to easily share documents with other people. This is especially useful with files that are too large to attach to an email. Normally, you are the only person who is allowed to access your personal cloud. With many services, you can instead generate a link that will let someone download it to their own computer. Because they are accessing the storage, you can skirt around upload limits that come with email or direct messages.
5. Remote Work
Having access anywhere you are means being able to remote work a lot more conveniently. With older tech, leaving an external hard drive at the office means you need to spend extra time driving back to pick it up. With the cloud, working from home becomes way simpler.
This also means you can seamlessly move your office to any location, like a local park. Syncing was already mentioned above, and keeping work files up to date means being able to resume where you left off anywhere and anytime you want.
6. File Security
Cloud services can offer extra security to protect the data that you save on their servers. Some people believe that their information is safer on their personal computers rather than a remote location. However, that isn’t always the case. These companies have security features and personnel to keep criminals out. They likely have a much more secure system than your home network.
On top of that, they usually offer file encryption. This is a process where the data appears as random jargon to anyone who doesn’t have the encryption key. If someone does manage to get a glimpse of your stuff, encryption renders that data unusable to them.
7. Lifetime Options
Sometimes, you don’t want the hassle of remembering to pay for a monthly or annual service. Especially with yearly subscriptions, those payment dates can really sneak up on you. Some of the companies that have cloud storage will offer lifetime subscriptions. That way, you pay a single, larger price up front and have access for the rest of your life. If having the cloud is something you know you will need long term, you may want to look into this.
Reasons Not to Use the Cloud
1. Reliance on Internet
If you live somewhere rural where you just don’t have a strong internet connection, the cloud can be tedious to use. When you aren’t able to keep your files synced properly, that removes a lot of the benefits that the cloud can offer.
2. Bigger Cloud = Bigger Cost
The free versions of most cloud services don’t offer a ton of data. Once you really start using the cloud, you’ll find those meager gigabytes start drying up pretty quickly. If you aren’t keen on shelling out more dough, extra storage can be pretty expensive.
For the most part, the pros greatly outweigh the cons for cloud storage. If the idea of being able to access certain files anywhere sounds useful, you should definitely give cloud storage a try.
Choose the right plan
Most cloud storage services offer different storage plans to meet the needs of different users. When choosing a plan, make sure to assess your storage needs and choose a plan that suits your requirements. If you only need to store a small amount of data, a free or low-cost plan may be sufficient. However, if you need more storage space, consider upgrading to a paid plan. You can often save money by choosing an annual plan instead of a monthly plan, and some services offer discounts for students and non-profits.
Delete unnecessary files
One of the easiest ways to save on cloud storage is to delete unnecessary files. Over time, we accumulate a lot of digital clutter, such as duplicate files, old backups, and outdated documents. By regularly reviewing and deleting these files, you can free up space and avoid paying for unnecessary storage. You can also use tools such as the Google Drive Storage Manager or the Dropbox Space Cleaner to identify and delete large and unused files.
Compress your files
Compressing your files is another way to save on cloud storage. Compression software such as WinZip, 7-Zip, and WinRAR can reduce the size of your files by up to 90%, making them much easier to store and share. This can be particularly useful for large files such as videos and high-resolution photos. Just make sure to choose a compression format that is compatible with your cloud storage service.
Use selective sync
Selective sync is a feature that allows you to choose which files and folders to sync to your local device. This can be a great way to save on cloud storage if you have a large amount of data that you don’t need to access regularly. By selecting only the files and folders you need, you can free up space on your local device and reduce the amount of data that needs to be synced to the cloud.
Share your storage with others
Many cloud storage services allow you to share your storage with others. For example, with Google Drive, you can share your storage with up to five other users, while Dropbox allows you to share your storage with as many users as you like. By sharing your storage, you can split the cost of your plan with others and save money on your monthly or annual bill.
Use promotional offers and discounts
Cloud storage services often run promotional offers and discounts to attract new customers or retain existing ones. Keep an eye out for these offers and take advantage of them when they are available. For example, some services offer free storage space for new users or discounts on annual plans. You can also search for coupon codes or promo codes online to save even more.
Use multiple storage services
Using multiple cloud storage services can also be a way to save on storage costs. By spreading your data across different services, you can avoid paying for extra storage on a single service. For example, you can use Google Drive for your documents and photos, Dropbox for your videos and music, and iCloud for your backups. Just make sure to keep track of where your files are stored and use a file management tool to keep everything organized.
Cloud storage is an essential part of our digital lives, but it can also be expensive. By following these tips, you can save on cloud storage and get the most out of your storage plan. Remember to choose the right plan, delete unnecessary files, compress your files, use selective sync, share your storage with others, take advantage of promotional offers and discounts, and use multiple storage services if necessary. By implementing these strategies, you can reduce your storage costs and keep your data safe and accessible in the cloud.
It’s important to note that while cloud storage is convenient and secure, it’s not a replacement for backing up your data. Always make sure to back up your important files to an external hard drive or another secure location to ensure that you have a copy in case of an emergency. Additionally, be sure to use strong passwords and two-factor authentication to protect your cloud storage accounts from unauthorized access.
Cloud storage can be an expensive but necessary investment for keeping your digital files safe and accessible. However, by using these tips, you can save on storage costs and get the most out of your storage plan. Remember to regularly assess your storage needs, delete unnecessary files, compress your files, use selective sync, share your storage with others, take advantage of promotional offers and discounts, and use multiple storage services if necessary. With a little effort and planning, you can keep your data safe and accessible in the cloud without breaking the bank.