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Living in harmony with cloud storage

By Jean-Claude Elias - Dec 13,2018 - Last updated at Dec 13,2018

Six or seven years ago few people really understood what it was, and even fewer ones were able to come up with a clear definition of it. Now virtually all users of Internet-connected devices are familiar with it and do use it. We are talking about cloud storage.

If only smartphone users who rely on cloud storage to make continuous backup of their phone’s digital contents, indeed the vast majority of those who operate computers of all kinds, including mobile devices such as tablets for example, makes use of some form of cloud storage today.

Are all cloud storage services equal? Are there any special precautions to take with them?

Whereas there are several good such services available — perhaps a dozen — the best known and the most popular remain Dropbox, Apple’s iCloud (the famous “i” prefix says it all…), Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.

All will give you a basic amount of storage for free; typically about 5GB of it. Whereas this may be enough for some, particularly at the beginning, most users will find it not large enough after a while. Though subscriptions are different from one service to another, differences are not that big, any of the four above mentioned services will give you about 1TB of storage for a yearly paid subscription of $100. Again, these storage size and prices are averages.

The first thing to realise is that extensive usage of cloud storage calls for an as-fast-as-possible Internet connectivity, be it cabled or wireless. Indeed, once hooked on it, you will not only be buying more and more storage space, but will be performing increasingly large uploads and downloads to the web. Unless your Internet is really fast, you will feel frustrated at having all this space to store data but with slow upload/download (=save/open) speed. Ideally a good fibre optic subscription would be recommended.

The second aspect is the quality and the level of the service provided. I went through a near-catastrophic experience by the end of last summer only to be saved by the highly professional service of my cloud storage provider, Dropbox in this very case.

My computer had caught a bad ransomware virus. By the time I realised what was happening the virus had “locked” not only all the files present on my local hard disk but also all the files stored in my Dropbox, since I was always online and therefore my Dropbox contents were accessible to the virus.

Fortunately, after having contacted Dropbox to explain the situation, the company said they always keep previous versions of their users’ files as safety backup sets. These sets understandably were not affected by the virus, and therefore Dropbox were able to retrieve for me all my data stored with them, thanks to this excellent, smart precautionary measure. As for the files that were stored on my local hard disk, and that were completely lost, there were not many and were not important. All that was important was saved in Dropbox. I was happy to have a paid, professional cloud storage subscription.

While good cloud storage can work as an effective backup for all of your files, understanding the system, how it works and synchronises files, and carefully using it also matters. This is true mainly to watch and monitor files synchronisation and especially in cases where you have more than one device connected. Files synchronisation between your local hard disk and the corresponding cloud storage is an essential part of the system.

Whenever you launch your computer (or tablet, or smartphone), make sure that your cloud storage has finished synchronising all data and is ready for you, before you start working on any file stored in the cloud. This will avoid problems such as “conflicting versions of the same file found”. There is usually a small icon on the screen that indicates if synchronisation is done or not.

Some are tempted to run more than one cloud storage service at the same time. There is no law against that, but it may make your life with technology uselessly complicated, unless you happen to be very much tech-minded.

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