Written by Alex Fisher

During the early 2000s, physical backups were the most popular devices for storage and transfer of digital files. However, as technology advanced, the cloud became more favored due to its amazing storage capabilities and people quickly adopted the new tech.

Benefits of the cloud

Apart from the ‘limitless’ storage ability, cloud computing has other advantages:

  1. Accessibility

Since cloud services run online, you can access your files from anywhere and on any device with internet connection. This feature is reliable because you do not need to carry any additional storage devices when travelling.

  1. Self-executing Software Integration

Platform-as-a-service (Paas) allows your applications to communicate with each other regardless of the number of connections. You do not need to customize your systems every time you add a new application since the cloud service automatically syncs the programs across your devices.

  1. Fast Deployment

Depending on your cloud business needs, your service provider will update and upgrade your systems on-demand. As long as you have paid for the product, your provider will handle all the logistics.

  1. Versatility

The cloud can be utilized by everyone. Multi-billion dollar corporations are beginning to integrate cloud computing in addition to their personal servers and intranets. Individuals can develop websites, online stores, blogs, etc. share files and host data in collaboration with other large and small entities.

Shortcomings of the cloud

Despite the advantages, cloud computing is vulnerable and subject to a few demerits:

  1. Internet Dependency

You cannot access your cloud files without an internet connection. This means that anytime your system is offline, operations stop. Additionally, since constant connectivity is not guaranteed, business operations may be inconsistent.

  1. Data Security is Not Guaranteed

Despite the advancements in cybersecurity, any information stored and accessed on the internet is vulnerable to hacking. Hackers are always adapting to software changes and finding new ways to steal private information. Therefore, any company data stored on the cloud is exposed to cyber attacks.

  1. Limited Control

If there is a problem with your cloud service, you cannot do anything about it since the entire system is managed and operated by your provider. You have to call your cloud company for assistance and even then, you may not get a direct response. As a result, your business operations could be paralyzed for an entire day if you have stored everything on the cloud.

  1. The Cost Adds Up

Depending if you are the multinational conglomerate or the basement blogger your provider costs and needs will differ. The rates can also increase on the provider’s terms meaning your storage and or services could be locked until you make an upgrade.

Coping with cloud inconsistencies using physical storage

One way to avoid the risks posed by cloud services is to use physical backups for your data. Local storage can be primary or supplementary to cloud storage and has the following merits:

  1. Safety of Data

The hard drives used to store information are kept at the company or individual’s premises for safe keeping. This way, you always know that your data is secure. You also do not have to worry about cyber attacks because once your computer is offline, your files are inaccessible.

  1. Continuity of Operations

With physical storage, you do not need to depend on the internet for digital file management. Your firm can operate efficiently and continuously when there are connectivity issues. Many companies operate on an intranet which can be accessed on-premise even when the internet is down.

  1. Speed

Since you do not need a network link to move files from a physical backup device to your computer, the transfer speed is relatively fast. Depending on the bandwidth limitations of your USB port and device, file relocation can take seconds to minutes.

Shortcomings of physical backups

Clearly there are shortcomings for physical storage otherwise the cloud would not have grown as a popular provider so quickly.

  1. Costly

It can be expensive to buy and install the hardware required to store large amounts of data on a personal server system. You may also have to hire more staff for control and maintenance of those pieces of equipment. Your electricity bill will also be very high.

  1. Inflexible

The thing with physical backups is that you get what you buy and nothing else. Therefore, if you purchase a 500-gigabyte hard drive, your storage space is limited to that, you can’t upgrade its capacity. Should you feel the need to increase your data handling capacity, you have to go to the store and buy another hard drive.

  1. Disaster Recovery

With physical backup, your stored data is all on your hardware in one place. This means that if a fire breaks out or any other natural disaster strikes, your data risks getting destroyed and lost forever. Corruption can also occur but services are available for full recoveries.

What does this all really mean?

The decision to go with a cloud service or a physical storage will depend on your operational and security needs. Most personal users choose cloud because they want a place to keep their media files without worrying about storage space.

However, as a business, your requirements are very different. You have to keep your client records confidential and at the same time maximize profits.

For that reason, it can be difficult to allow a third party or a cloud service to keep your firm’s data considering security is not guaranteed. In addition, you risk losing money from operational inefficiencies caused by connectivity downtime and ongoing provider fees.

You would rather invest in physical backup and pay the one-time infrastructure costs. As long as your business serves customers without service interruptions, you will eventually recover your money and make more profit.

In almost all cases individuals and companies implement a combination of cloud and physical storages. By utilizing one as a primary storage and the other as a backup running regularly most data storage problems can be eliminated.

Solid truths of physical storage devices

Personal server systems are on their way out for small businesses and individuals although there are exceptions the cloud just makes it too easy.  That being said, USB flash drives, SD Cards and external hard drives will evolve, again. The storage capacity for these devices continues to increase as do the write speeds in addition to other emerging capabilities.

Many companies purchase USB flash drives in bulk to use for internal purposes in addition to promotional giveaways. They don’t share access to the cloud or push downloads on you, instead they give you a micro-website or video on a flash drive to look at on your own time and reuse the device for your own purposes. These devices could always be encrypted but now they can be purchased with a security keypad as extra security for those utilizing them as crypto wallets.

All sorts of tech like drones and electronic devices like smartphone and navigation systems use micro SD cards with unique programming to operate or update devices. Digital cameras and full production cinema cameras use other styles of SD cards.

Lastly, we have the external hard drives. These are becoming increasingly popular as storage sizes have reached over 8TB without external power sources. Some are designed for rugged water, shock, and impact resistance they are more durable for travelers. They are also incorporating their own wireless networking capabilities meaning you don’t have to plug anything in and essentially have a personal cloud when in range of the device.

About the Author:

Alex is a travel enthusiast and writes with Everything But Stromboli, a bulk supplier of Flash and SD storage devices. He stays on top of emerging technologies and enjoys sharing his discoveries through his writings and photography.


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