New to cloud storage? Backing up online is the latest way to store your personal files and folders without copying the data to disc. Files saved to the internet are more secure; there's a lesser risk of losing your data. Backups to CD/DVD-ROM and USB drives just can't offer the same level of protection - the back-up hardware carries the same risk of damage as your computer does. This guide explains more about how your cloud works.

Cloud computing in the sky

The Knowhow

Pick an option from the list below to find out more:

What is cloud storage? Is my cloud safe to use? The advantages of cloud storage
Cloud storage - the flipside How do you upload and retrieve data? Knowhow Services

What is cloud storage?

  • In very basic terms: cloud storage is a way to save information to the web.
  • Cloud computing services are online services which store this information to a safe and secure location online; they offer a quicker, easier and safer backup than conventional methods of file storage.
  • Using cloud computing, you can access your files and programs from any computer anywhere in the world; all you need is an internet connection.
  • Do you use services such as Flickr, YouTube, Google Docs or Yahoo Mail? Then you're already using cloud computing. These all allow you to store data online and to access web services from any location. Even social networking sites such as Facebook can be seen as cloud computing, because they allow you to store and share information online.

    family using cloud storage on laptop

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Is my cloud safe to use?

As with everything related to the internet, it's important to keep security in mind when using cloud products. If your cloud password falls into the wrong hands, the password-holder may be able to access, change, download or delete your stored files.

It is very important that your computer is virus-free. If your PC / laptop is infected with malware, you run the risk that your cloud logon details will be revealed. Make sure your virus scanner and anti-malware software is up-to-date, and that you run your anti-virus scanner on a regular basis.

caution laptop with virus or malwareThe security checks don't just need to be at your end; your cloud service provider must keep your data as safe and secure as they can. This means they need to have adequate protection from hackers and other online threats. They also need to have a disaster recovery plan should anything happen to the physical location where the main servers are kept. A good provider will be able to satisfy you that they have a number of secure backups of your files, all stored in different locations.

Be wary if the service provider only has one storage location, or if they reveal to you the exact physical whereabouts of their servers. This can indicate their security is not as thorough as it should be.

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The advantages of cloud storage

Don't put off your first back-up - the process itself isn't particularly labour-intensive, and your cloud will update automatically once you have finished the initial data transfer.

  • Cloud storage is more flexible than saving to disc or USB stick; you can retrieve your backups anywhere in the world, from any computer.
  • No additional storage space is needed in your home; all you need for online backup is an internet connection.
  • You don't need to bother with connecting external hard drives or swapping DVDs.
  • You can schedule regular updates to run automatically; this will happen in the background, so you can get on with using your computer as normal at the same time. This means that your backup is regularly updated on your behalf - your computer files are regularly scanned for changes and amendments, ensuring that the data stored 'in the cloud' matches the latest changes made to your hard drive data.
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Cloud storage - the flipside

  • The first backup may take a while, even if you have a fast internet connection. It depends on how much you want to backup. You can leave the computer to run this backup on its own, provided you have already designated the folders you want stored.
  • If you back-up a large amount of data, your internet service provider may levy extra charges for heavy use of their bandwidth.
  • If the backup service provider goes out of business your online data could be lost. Also; if your storage provider's modem (and backup modem) run into problems, your data will be under threat. NB: the chances of something happening to both the modem AND the backup modem are very slim.
  • In the long run, charges for using the service can become more expensive than physical solutions such as external hard drives.

    man using computer keyboard
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How do you upload and retrieve data?

The upload method will vary according to the service you have chosen. Some providers offer a web-based interface, while others ask you to download a new software application.

upload data onto the cloud from CD

Whichever method you use, the basic process involves the following steps:

  • Select the folders destined for storage.
  • Alert the storage system that it's time to begin uploading the data.
  • Schedule automatic uploads to run through the provider's storage interface - these ensure your stored data is kept up-to-date.
  • The interface will let you know which folders have backed up and which are waiting. For example, they may place a tick on completed sections and a cross where there is still data for upload; this helps you to find out whether you have overlooked anything important.
  • Set your privacy and encryption options. It's important to make a note of any encrypted passwords you use. Without them, you won't be able to access your data
  • To retrieve your files, download them through the interface provided. You can access individual files and folders this way, and even download them onto other computers. Certain services also have apps for smartphones and tablet computers so that you can view and manage your stored data.
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Knowhow Services:

Knowhow offer three online backup services. For more information click the links below.

Updated On:

May 22, 2014

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