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Data storage is a fundamental aspect of online work that more and more businesses have needed to consider. Where you keep your data, and how secure it is as a result, can be the difference between having a business that people trust and a serious breach of confidential information.
When it comes to data storage many are still unsure whether to go with cloud storage options or an external hard drive. Some people haven’t yet switched to cloud storage because they aren’t sure what benefits it has.
In the ongoing debate surrounding cloud storage vs external hard drive, there are numerous factors to consider that many business owners and individuals may not be aware of. That’s why we’ve listed these key pros and cons of both options, so you can make an educated decision on which is best for you.
Once you’ve read this post you’ll never be unsure about whether to use the cloud or an external hard drive for your data storage purposes again.
Cloud Storage vs External Hard Drive
External Hard Drive: The Pros
An external hard drive is a memory storage unit that isn’t placed inside of a computer itself but can instead be plugged into it externally. They are commonly connected through a USB port and can come in varying different sizes and designs.
Let’s start off by looking at the positives of using an external hard drive.
For starters, the fact that an external hard drive connects via a USB port makes it compatible with almost any desktop computer or laptop. This means the hard drive can easily be connected and accessed by whatever machine you are working on at that particular time. It can even allow the hard drive to connect to certain mobile phones or tablets provided they have a USB port.
It also benefits from being a physical object, meaning you know exactly where it is at any one time. You are able to safely disconnect your hard drive and then keep it locked up.
This ensures that nobody else will have access to the information stored on that hard drive. To do so they’d need to have the hard drive itself to plug it into their device. The ability to choose a hard drive with a certain memory capacity also means you can buy the right size and price hard drive for your needs.
Now that we’ve highlighted the pros of external hard drives, let’s look at the notable cons of this data storage option.
External Hard Drive: The Cons
The fact that an external hard drive is a physical object unfortunately also works to its disadvantage. It means that there is only one copy of your data.
That means for starters that only one person can access it at any one time. That can be good for security, but it makes remote and collaborative working between employees near-impossible.
It also means that your data is dependent on the wellbeing of the hard drive itself. As a physical object, its at risk of unexpected occurrences like an office fire or an earthquake that could severely damage the device. Hard drives are also known for sometimes failing. If this happens and your hard drive is corrupted, it can be hard to fix it and salvage all the data you’ve stored.
There doesn’t even need to be a natural disaster for this to happen. The reality of hard drives is that, sooner or later, it is going to stop working. You may never know when this will happen either, or why.
The wiring of the cable could become damaged, or an electrical surge could cause a failure in saving essential documents. If this happens and you haven’t saved files elsewhere, you risk losing them forever.
Another con to consider with external hard drives is that if the hard drive isn’t kept safe it’s very easy to steal data from it. Since external hard drives are kept locally to us, we can be less careful with their security. They often only need a password, if that, to get full access to their contents.
A hacker who manages to obtain your external hard drive would have very little trouble in accessing the information on it.
So, what’s the alternative to an external hard drive with these cons? You can try cloud storage.
Cloud Storage: The Pros
Cloud storage is a way of storing all of your data on external servers known as the cloud.
A major benefit to this over an external hard drive is the fact that a cloud storage solution is accessed via the internet. That means that you can access the cloud through any internet connection, whilst with an external hard drive if you forget the hard drive itself you have no way to access your data.
This also means that, through cloud sync, various people can access the information at any one time. This makes the cloud far superior in terms of collaborating on documents and sharing information between employees. Many providers allow people to make direct changes to documents that are then saved to the cloud in real-time.
Cloud storage also benefits from cloud backup, which creates a backup copy of any data you save to a cloud server. This means that there are far more ways to restore your documents or data, should anything happen to the main cloud server.
With an external hard drive, this backup support isn’t as reliably available. This makes cloud storage a better solution in case of emergencies, by comparison.
Some of the best examples of cloud backup save many versions of your data on many different servers. To see an example of comprehensive cloud data solutions, take a look at this article here.
Cloud storage services also offer tiered pricing options, ensuring you can pay for the services you need. This pricing model means you can pay for the right amount of storage space that your business requires.
Cloud Storage: The Cons
In truth, there are far fewer cons to using cloud storage, though some do exist. Cloud storage relies on a strong internet connection to ensure fast restoration and saving of documents.
This means that you do need to rely on your internet to make the most of a cloud storage solution. Yet, a strong WiFi connection is almost a requirement for many businesses today.
Many are concerned about how secure cloud storage is, due to the fact that it can be accessed from anywhere using an internet connection. However, this is very rarely a con, as reliable cloud storage providers invest heavily in the security of their services to prevent data breaches. This is because cloud services have access to sophisticated multi-level encryption.
The reality is that you are able to utilize both of these data storage options if it would put your mind at ease. If you do however you need to make sure you store your external hard drive somewhere safe so as to not compromise your data through an easily accessible hard drive.
It doesn’t hurt to have more than one storage solution, but using just an external hard drive means you aren’t taking advantage of the additional features cloud storage allows for.
Cloud Storage vs External Hard Drive: The Verdict
After having assessed all the pros and cons above, the conclusion of cloud storage vs external hard drive storage options is a fairly clear one.
Cloud storage is a better option if you intend for several employees to have access to your data at any one time. It can also allow them to collaborate directly with documents saved onto the cloud, something that’s impossible with external hard drives.
It’s also overall more secure, thanks to advanced encryption methods and the fact that you don’t need to take your hard drive with you everywhere to access your information.
You may be hesitant to switch to a cloud storage solution, but as these points above show it’s a far better way of keeping your data safe today. It also ensures your business is better prepared for any emergencies that might occur.
You need your data to be backed up properly, and unless you’re backing up on numerous hard drives at once, cloud storage is a better way to guarantee this. Not only that but its considerably less time-consuming to do so.
If you’re unsure how to properly make the transition to cloud storage, or have other tech questions, make sure to look through previous posts on our website. We work to provide simple to understand solutions to real business and tech problems facing companies today.