Protecting your most valuable personal files is a challenge. How can you save photos, family videos, important documents, and other precious or irreplaceable items? While lockboxes and external hard drives are one answer to protecting files around your home, the recent tornadoes scattered those solutions far and wide. Floods, windstorms, and fires can all wreck havoc on the most organized physical files. You need a personal storage system that can save your valuable files and photos from even the most unexpectedly strong natural disasters.
The solution that you need is found in “the cloud.” Understanding what the cloud is and how to use it effectively to protect your files isn’t complicated. When you’re finished reading here you will know what kinds of items you can store in the cloud, some of the top providers for cloud storage services, and the costs associated with using cloud services.
What is the cloud?
The cloud is the term used to describe virtual storage systems. These systems are hosted online over multiple networks of computers, allowing you to enjoy offsite storage of your precious personal files in a system that is engineered not to go down just because of a local disaster. Instead, even if your home is blown into three states, as soon as you get back online, all of your files are there, waiting for you.
This ability to preserve files online as well as offline is what makes cloud storage a valuable back up system. The cloud can be used to house scans of historic family photos, digital picture collections, music, books, movies, financial records, works of fiction, or any other digital file. For most cloud systems, you will have the ability to access your files through the main portal from any computer connected to the Internet using your personal password.
Top cloud storage providers
Some of the earliest cloud storage providers have been around for almost a decade. The systems work for Mac or PC computers, and most have intuitive interfaces requiring very little pre-existing computer skills. Though many cloud storage providers are stand alone operations, Apple launched iCloud in 2011 and Google’s documents system has long allowed account holders to store valuable files online.
Two of the other top cloud storage providers are DropBox and Box.net. Box.net has higher levels of encryption of your files available, and they also are used by several large corporations. DropBox, on the other hand, went from obscurity to a premier spot in the individual user space by being extremely simple to use and incorporating automatic syncing to keep files up to date.
Costs of cloud storage
The costs of a cloud storage system depend on your needs. Free services are available for those who just need a few megabytes of virtual storage, while those with a larger set of archives may find it useful to pay fees for more space in the system. Often, storage is offered on a tiered system with the same firm, allowing you to take cloud storage for a virtual test drive on the free platform before upgrading to a paid subscription.
This tiered system is in place for both Box.net and DropBox. Box.net offers free storage for personal users, but charges $15/user per month for businesses. DropBox doesn’t differentiate between business and personal use, offering 6 GB free and 50 GB of storage for $99/year. For an additional fee, DropBox also offers users the chance to have infinite undeletes of their files.
Google and Apple are totally free at the moment. Google’s document system is linked to Gmail accounts, which are also free. Apple’s iCloud targets Apple devices, syncing multiple devices free of charge into the storage hub.
All in all, cloud storage systems are a relatively affordable back-up to offline storage systems. Items stored in the cloud are not at risk of fire damage, floods, or tornado strikes. Even if you don’t want to use cloud storage as a primary personal storage system, it can bring you peace of mind and security against loss for your most important files.