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Cloud computing is, in a certain sense, safer for our data. Lawyers are learning this the hard way as their files become the target of online hackers. Viewed from a certain angle, cloud computing can seem risky. There are the crashes, the healthcare debacle being the most recent example, and a host of issues involving privacy.
The reasons why the cloud is safer for data involve security, response times and longevity. If you’ve ever wondered about the cloud and the benefits for your business, read on for a breakdown of how the cloud works.
A Quick Synopsis of Computing
There are two ways of thinking about computing, and data storage. Users are spread out over a network with distributed computing. Centralized computing is the equivalent of a data center. It’s a cluster of computers that are monitored by a team of people. When problems occur on a system that is decentralized, support for that system is likely limited to the user’s ability to troubleshoot his system.
In a centralized system, there are groups of highly trained individuals to maintain that system. That means that servers are upgraded and maintained properly and on time. When systems do go down, there are teams working around the clock to bring service back.
These teams have a vested interest in maintaining up-time. That usually involves more than maintenance, as data centers are frequent targets for hacking. Companies that run these centers usually invest in deep security software specifically designed to privatize traffic and block incoming threats. These data centers also tend to handle security in-house where teams of people are trained to look for the signs of an attack and take measures to stop it.
In distributed computing, the security of a system is left up to what the ISP provides. Often, these minimal measures include a firewall, and whatever free (or trial) antivirus software came with the user’s computer at the time of purchase. There are plenty of free solutions that are surprisingly robust, but enterprise grade security demands more comprehensive solutions.
Remember that your weakest point of entry is where the hackers will strike. Data centers plug those holes and have a plan for security of the data they host.
The Myth of Data Location
The other large argument against cloud storage involves the myth that your data must be near you to be safe. If that were true, you would never get viruses in the first place. The fact is the location of data has almost no effect on its security. The external hard drive you back your data to (if you do so at all) is susceptible to a heat wave, a spilled drink or a fall from the desk. Your computer’s hard drive could suddenly spin it’s last rotation, or a power surge could short your motherboard. There are so many variables that could go wrong in decentralized computing, that it’s almost safer to think of our data monitored by a team of people in a climate controlled room.
The alarmist argument is about data privacy. Aside from the mountains of Terms of Service Agreements protecting these companies, it would not be in their interest to snoop. The NSA is a prime example of how prying erodes credibility.
Cloud vs. Local
So the question comes down to which is supreme. There do happen to be people who understand the logistics of NAS servers, and who can set up VPN networks in their own homes. They are just not the majority of people, and that’s probably the biggest “pro” in favor of cloud computing.
You could handle all these things yourself, or hire staff to do so. Or you could pay a reasonable monthly fee to safely store data that is crucial to your business. The choice, as they say, is yours to make.
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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