Are there downsides to using cloud storage for long-term archiving?
Over the last decade, cloud storage has continued to grow. As of January 2023, the cloud storage industry has reached over 150 billion in annual revenue. Consumers and companies alike are using cloud storage technology for both short and long-term storage solutions, including file archiving for historical record-keeping purposes. Let’s take a look at some of the factors that can impact our data storage and possible ways to mitigate any associated risk.
Security: This is a significant factor when placing the care of your digital content in the hands of a storage provider. It’s very important to determine what types of content you plan to store so that you can ensure that the proper systems are in place to ensure the security of your files. Encryption is always an excellent way to help protect sensitive materials stored in the cloud. Most centralized cloud-based file storage companies offer file encryption, but it’s important to note that since they’re selling you the file encryption service, they also hold the keys to decrypt your files. Depending on the security needs of your specific files, this may not be the best approach.
Navigating and mitigating the security risks of cloud storage, including encryption can be challenging. Its best to research the company you’re trusting with your data and see what their track record is for file protection, security, and of course hacks and breaches of the service(s).
Vendor Lock-in: An often overlooked aspect of storing your content with a specific provider for an extended period comes when you decide to make a change in storage providers. Can your content be easily accessed and transferred over to your new storage carrier? Are there additional costs associated with pulling all your archived data from their servers? Will the provider you’ve chosen still be around as your business and storage needs grow?
How your content is stored and archived within a cloud storage system can vary between providers. It’s important to ask your provider about file and data transfer options prior to using the cloud service. It’s always easy to provide them with your files and to get them stored, but it might not be that simple to get them all back quickly and cost-effectively so that you can transfer your files to another provider.
Limited Control over Data: Another aspect to be mindful of is who is handling and managing your files, and the amount of control and access you have. Most providers offer easy access to files you use daily. They’re easy to locate, manage, and access.
Archived files offer a different risk here because they’re not files you touch regularly. So they tend to be stored in longer-term storage locations often referred to as “cold” or “glacial” file storage. Most providers charge additional fees for engaging files that are identified as being archived because typically archived files are simply not touched. So it’s important to know what your options are to engage your archived files.
Data Sovereignty: Another factor to consider when choosing a cloud storage provider is data sovereignty. More specifically, does your storage provider comply with local, state, and federal laws associated with data sovereignty in your part of the world?
As you can see, using centralized, cloud-based public storage offers a great deal of simplicity and ease, but can be accompanied by significant pitfalls if you’re not asking your provider the right questions. So before you decide where to place your company’s vital data, it’s good to compare your choices to ensure you’re getting the right value, the right protection, and unlimited access to your stored content.
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