In general, the term “cloud” refers computers or servers that are hosted somewhere other than your local computer. So, “data storage on the cloud” refers to the ability to store your files, documents, images, multi-media or any other digital assets on servers provided by another entity (and not on your local computer). Such providers like Amazon, Google, and many more offer capabilities for us to upload, download, edit, share and view our files without the need of storing these files on our local computers. Gone are the days when we would store our files on our desktops and laptops which came equipped with a certain amount of storage space. Once the space ran out, we would either need to upgrade our computers/laptops, or purchase external hard drive devices to store additional files. Many of us might remember the times we would have to delete existing files, pictures and videos simply to make space for new files to be saved. Cloud storage offers virtually unlimited storage space for everyone which can be accessed by simply signing up for an account with any of the providers. Further, the files in the cloud can be accessed from any of your devices (laptops, computers, phones, tablets, etc).
How to get started with data storage on the cloud? A simple Google search for “Data Storage on the Cloud” will yield hundreds of results listing various providers offering numerous services. The most common among these are Amazon, Google, Yahoo, Azure, DropBox, and many more. In some cases, users already have access to cloud storage space by virtue of having an account with a provider. For example, if you have a GMAIL based email account, you automatically have access to a certain amount of *FREE* storage space with Google Drive (Google’s cloud storage solution). If you run out of the free allocated space, you can buy additional space at a very low cost (in the range of a few dollars for hundreds of GB of space).
For businesses looking to move their local files and data to the cloud, we would recommend some research based on your specific needs. Also take into consideration factors such as space requirements, type of files, security, accessibility (devices that will access the files), etc. Many providers offer collaborative services whereby the files uploaded can be shared with other individuals or groups. Permissions can be set to allow the individuals or groups to simply view the shared files, or they may be allowed to edit, update and/or delete the files.
To summarize, cloud data storage offers a new and effective way to create, save, edit, view and manage our files and media. The main benefits include substantial cost savings, no hardware or infrastructure to manage, automatic backups, ease of sharing and collaboration, scalability (ability to increase allocated space without the need to purchase and set up hardware), and enhanced security.