The cloud hit the big time in 2011. With the introduction of iCloud and Google Music (now Google Play) for consumers and the growing reliance on private clouds by business, cloud computing is set to grow even more in 2012.
But the cloud still bothers many people, especially at the consumer level. What if the data gets corrupted? What if hackers wipe everything out? What if the servers croak and have to be replaced?
These questions come up time and time again, and they represent valid concerns. While there’s no such thing as a 100% secure way to store anything, the odds are on your side when you keep data in the cloud. Here’s why:
Imagine there’s a technically sophisticated insurance carrier on the East Coast that backs up all of its on-site data to a heavily-secured, off-site data center nearby. They’ve covered all their bases until a hurricane or tornado blows through and physically destroys the office servers and causes power outages that make it impossible to access any of the off-site backups.
If the insurance company had backed up its data in the cloud, it would still have access to all of its client files and vital company records. That’s because serious cloud providers offer redundancy, meaning they back up your data in various locations around the country – or even the world.
Think of redundancy like it’s the stock market. To lower your exposure to risk, it’s better to own lots of stocks instead of just a few. That way you’re not in a hole you can’t climb out of whenever the value of one of your holdings falls through the floor.
Reputable cloud services are similar. By offering redundancy, cloud companies ensure that your data isn’t compromised whenever it’s corrupted or destroyed in one location. Since it exists on multiple servers in multiple places, there’s almost always a way to recover your data in the event of a disaster.
If you’re not letting a cloud company store your data, who takes care of it?
Do you back it up to an external drive or drives? If you run a business, are you relying on an IT staffer (some of whom may be part-time) to secure it on a local server?
Either of those solutions is better than nothing, but both are a far cry from hiring experienced IT professionals with the state-of-the-art hardware, security, and technical know-how needed to take care of your data. When you rely on the cloud, you’re relying on seasoned professionals who stake their careers on making sure your data is accessible and secure.
It’s like keeping money in the bank. The money’s not at your house. You don’t see it all the time. You probably don’t even know any of the people to whom you’ve entrusted it – that goes for bankers as well as FDIC employees.
Yet you know it’s safer in the bank than under your mattress. The cloud is the same way except you can access data 24/7 from your home or office. No ATM needed. Just an internet connection. And if you’re a business owner whose clunky legacy software is keeping you out of the cloud (at least for the time being), there are plenty of B2B cloud integration providers out there who can help you get in gear – and better protect your data.
To be sure, Web security isn’t infallible. But the level of sophistication at which cloud providers now operate means the risks are smaller than ever.