Safety on the Cloud
Cloud Storage Safety
“The cloud” is everywhere; some examples include Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook.com, and even Amazon. “Cloud” services are becoming more common, and more people are using them to store documents, pictures, and computer files.
Never heard of “the cloud?” Not sure if you should use it? This article will help you better understand these new services!
So what is it?
Defining “the cloud” is really up to the company that is trying to get you to buy into it. In general however, marketers use the word “cloud” when describing a method to access data or files from any computer – such as your home computer, laptop, or even your mother-in-law’s house.
For example, you can save a document to your desktop, or you could download it to Microsoft’s cloud service, the “SkyDrive app,” by saving it into the SkyDrive folder. Then, when you go to your mother in laws, you can open up your SkyDrive account on line, and your document will be waiting for you there. In order to get work done you don’t need your laptop, or hard copies, just log into “the cloud.”
Are there advantages to using the cloud?
Cloud storage is actually a very useful tool. Examples include DropBox, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive, and Ubuntu One - all offering storage on the internet. You can use these services to store files you want to access from other devices, such as music, school papers, or a project for work. As long as you have access to the internet, you can access your cloud storage system and start working.
Another great advantage is that most email providers have size limits for attachments. Is your very large family always asking you to send the latest baby pictures? Use a cloud storage service, and then invite everyone to login and download the pictures they want: fast, easy, no need for multiple emails and you just upload to one location.
The cloud is also useful for disaster recovery. When a lightning bolt fries your computer because your 20-year-old power strip was no longer up to the task, your documents will still be safely stored on the cloud.
There are plenty of reasons to use a cloud storage solution on your computer, but despite the friendly fluffy icons used by most of these services, there are risks.
Things to Think About
It is always a good idea to focus on safety when using online services. We offered a few tips on how to stay safe online, in this article about public Wi-Fi safety, in addition to those, you also should:
- Be smart when storing passwords and login information. For example, don’t include the password, user name, and website for your cell phone service in a file called “Passwords and Accounts.”
- Check the security policies of a service before putting important personal documents on any cloud service. Examples include your will, birth certificate, or medical files.
- Avoid using the same password for your cloud service that you use elsewhere.
Why? Unless you are comfortable with the security policies and contract you’ve reviewed for the service, it is always better to be cautious! If you don’t have time to read the End User License Agreement (EULA), don’t assume it protects you. It is better to be safe than sorry!
Convenience is a great reason to use the cloud. It’s a simple and easy way to have remote storage at a great price.
In addition, Google, Yahoo, and Outlook have all started to offer integration of their email systems with cloud storage systems in order to make your email easier to manage. Your employer may be rolling out a cloud service to your office as well!
However, when you’re using these services remember to be cautious and safe, and guard your data carefully! Just a few simple precautions and basic common sense can keep you safe and serene. Just like floating in the clouds!