Q&A - Cloud Storage

What is it?

Cloud storage is like a limitless, infinitely reliable hard disk that is available to anyone to store their data on.

Where is is?

It's where you want it to be - everywhere!

Cloud storage is kept in highly secure data centres. These data centres are spread across the globe, and you normally choose one in your own region for speed and/or legal reasons.

How does it work in practice?

Some simple, yet clever, software is installed on your server(s) or PC(s), and configured to access your cloud storage. As files are created and changed, they are uploaded to your cloud storage area - either continually or as a scheduled backup.

Files that are deleted are generally configured to be retained in the cloud backup for a set number of days (or forever) to allow accidental deletions to be recovered with minimal effort.

How secure is my data?

Cloud storage vendors provide you with authentication keys that are known only to you. Without these keys, your data cannot be accessed, but ew keys can be created and issued, or revoked by you if required.

In addition to this, data is protected from prying eyes during upload and download by SSL encryption.

Data within the cloud can also be encrypted so that even in the unlikely event of someone accessing your storage space, the data within it will be unreadable.

How reliable is it?

Very. For example, Amazon offers a 99.99% availability and a 99.999999999% durability SLA (a slightly cheaper, slightly less durable offering also exists for not-so-critical data). If they don't achieve this, they refund you.

How much does it cost?

Amazon pricing is available here, but as a ready-reckoner your ongoing storage costs are in the order of $0.14 per gigabyte per month for storage. There will be some transfer costs on top of this which will depend on your usage.