Cloud Storage: What to Research Before Buying

The average person these days has a massive amount of data to store. From personal documents to photographs, this digital data takes up space. Rather than purchasing expensive external drives, many people turn to cloud storage to keep their data safe and secure.

Cloud storage is available in small increments for free from many providers, but larger GBs (gigabytes) of storage will cost a monthly fee. This fee is determined by the amount of storage you purchase and the cloud storage provider you choose.

Before choosing a cloud storage provider, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Security

Make sure the cloud storage providers you’re looking at are up-to-date with all their industry and data center certifications. The providers should be compliant with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) and PCI (Payment Card Industry) standards as well as the recently passed SSAE 16 (Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagements 16) regulations.

Knowing your cloud provider is up-to-date with these certificates will let you know your data is kept as secure as possible. Even if you don’t want to store financial or sensitive information, knowing this is important.

 

Pick a Provider Known for Your Industry

 
If you’re a small or large business, you might decide on a cloud storage provider who is already familiar with your industry. There are providers who specialize in financial data, healthcare, or entertainment. A specialized provider will have more experience with your type of data storage needs.

 

Be Familiar with Bandwidth

 
Cloud data storage requires moving data from your main server (your computer or laptop) to the cloud facility. When you’re backing up data for the first time, bandwidth will become important as you transfer the data. It will also be a concern if you need to restore enormous chunks of data from the cloud (in the event of a computer failure).

Check to see if the provider offers bulk transfer options. And keep in mind you’ll have to have a fast internet connection. Data transfer can take minutes, hours, or days.

 

Encrypt Data

 
Some cloud storage providers offer encryption, sometimes called server-side encryption, but if they code your data, that means they can also decipher it. Encrypting your own data before storing it adds another level of security to your data. You should even encrypt your data when you transfer it to an off-site facility of your own; this helps to ensure the security of the data.

 

Buy Only What You Need

 
Don’t buy more storage than what you need at the moment. Cloud storage pricing goes down about 24% each year, so buying only what you need is cost-effective. And, you can always upgrade your cloud storage later on; most businesses increase their data volume by 40 to 60% every year.

 

Learn About Data Recovery and Restoration

 
The other side of the data storage coin is recovery. This is what happens when you lose your data locally and need to recover it using your backup. Many providers make backing up quick and easy, but recovery is a little more complicated. Some providers may send you a hard drive with your data or offer easy data restore; though these services will cost extra. And expert help is available if needed!

 

Have a Backup for Your Backup Plan

 
Keep in mind that even the best companies can run into issues, so have a backup plan in case you decide to change providers or your provider goes out of business. You’ll likely end up with an enormous amount of data to move from one server to another, so make sure you plan for this in the event you need it.

Data storage in the cloud is growing in popularity. The iPhone and iPad stores data and apps in the Apple cloud, and other providers like Google Drive and Dropbox offer cloud storage options for the average person. For business needs, other cloud storage providers are available, even those that specialize in specific data types.

No matter what your data storage needs, you should research the providers you’re looking at using before you start to use the service. You’ll want to make sure that data security is a priority for the provider and that you’ll be able to restore your data whenever you need to.