Recent articles about cloud storage have raised a lot of questions from our readers. I’d like to try to address some of your concerns.
Robert wanted to know, “What will happen when the “cloud” bursts? Nothing lasts forever, so what backup plans do the “clouds” have for all of the data stored in them?”
Meha also expressed concern: “I’m leery of it also-There needs to be more information/education/explanation – published about it- – anything out of our hands, is loss of control. It’s not in our nature ”to be out of control”. Is it used without our knowledge? Would you explain how a hotmail user – uses it? Is it just for the hotmail content? I just acquired a hotmail acct. Am I notified – if it is used?”
Let’s talk about how cloud storage works. Of course, it’s not really in a cloud somewhere and it’s not just in one place. The cloud simply refers to off-site storage that you access via the Internet. The data is stored on servers, just not on a drive in your home. You can access that data from anywhere you have an Internet connection and from multiple devices such as computers, phones and tablets.
If your computer is lost or stolen or your hard drive fails, you still have access to that data. Or, say a tornado were to destroy your home wiping out your computer and your backup drives. That data would still be accessible for you to download from the servers where it is stored. Cloud storage services build in redundancy. Your data isn’t just stored on one server, but backed-up on multiple servers usually in multiple locations. If a server in New York fails, your data will still be preserved on servers in Texas and Ohio.
I still keep copies important data on back up drives at home, but cloud storage is great for having an extra backup in an off-site location and for sharing data instantly with multiple people.
To address Meha’s concern, your OneDrive storage is part of your Outlook.com (Hotmail) account. It is accessed with your e-mail address and password for that account. To be used without your knowledge, someone would need to have gained access to your e-mail address and the password to that account.
The OneDrive storage is for any types of files you choose, not just your e-mail. If you have the OneDrive App on your computer, saving to it is a simple as selecting it as a location to save or copy a file.
You are likely already using cloud storage for your important data, whether you know it or not. If you have an e-mail account, your messages spend time in the cloud, even if you download them onto an e-mail client like Outlook. Your bank, medical and government information is also stored in offsite servers in various locations. Trust it or not, you’re already in the cloud.
If you have more questions, we have a couple of useful special reports you may want to check out.
Our Cloud Computing 101 breaks down the various cloud services and how to use them.
Our guide to Outlook.com explains the e-mail service and the free Office Apps and cloud storage.