The once trusted method of cloud storage is beginning to dwindle. Unfortunately, it has little to do with its own performance. Rather, it has been another victim of the National Security Agency's spying scandals. As details of the agency conducting warrantless searches on US citizens' emails and phone calls continue to surface, businesses have just as much to be worried over.
Tech giants like Google and Yahoo received taps from the agency as well. Reports claim that these companies were complicit in the searches, which is even more unnerving. In response, Yahoo has already stepped up efforts for better encryption to protect its users. Yet, for many individuals and businesses alike, there’s a growing sentiment that it is time to abandon the cloud.
This won't just affect business on the user side of the aisle. As Daniel Castro- Senior Analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation- states, recent studies reveal "anecdotal evidence that suggests US tech firms are going to be hit hard in the coming years by a global backlash against technology 'made in America.'" With tech firms echoing these sentiments for quite some time, it remains to be seen if the US will actually revise its surveillance laws and practices.
While a definitive answer has yet to surface, new options are becoming more and more popular to users. Some are preferring to go into a private network. Others are seeking a completely Internet-free storage system. At this moment, the cloud faces losing users like an actual cloud losing rain drops in a storm. As users leave, these three options are gaining in popularity and consideration for individuals and businesses alike. Is it time for you to consider leaving the cloud? Examine these three options and make the choice for yourself.
External Hard Drives
External hard drives are far from new in data storage. Since the latter stages of the '90s external drives have been in use by businesses and individuals alike. Increased storage sizes have made external drives able to stay in competition with the cloud and other services. These days it is hard to find a modern drive with anything less than one terabyte of storage.
One significant feature about external drives are their speed. Uploading to an external drive is almost always faster than loading onto the cloud, especially with an up to date USB connection. Yet, in light of the NSA scandals the more significant feature is the ability to completely remove the Internet from your storage methods. For a business looking to go off the Internet grid for storage this is the way to go.
The drawbacks to the drives are pretty simple. If the drive gets damaged you have to hope you have the data stored in another drive or location. Otherwise, your data is gone. Another factor that you should always remember is that drives fail about as often as a computer does. Scheduled maintenance and backing up should ease most of these problems. However, when a business is updating on a consistent basis this may not be enough.
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Backup
In the past, businesses have frowned upon P2P networks for business. Using the same type of data storage as the preferred method of illegal filing sharing has not been ideal for businesses. Yet, with all the fears from the NSA scandals the option has become more attractive.
Peer-to-peer backup provides a solution to the potential multiple device issue with external drives. With P2P backup your data gets stored offsite at a location with another trusted connection. The data is stored in an encrypted format so that only the business will have access to the information. Furthermore, data is stored amongst the peers they choose to include, rather than a server that contains all the content and information.
While a reliable Internet connection from all parties is mandatory to make this process successful, all is not lost with a dropped connection. Unlike when a server goes down, a P2P backup doesn't rely on one central server to maintain the network. If one end of the connection goes down only that person would see the effects. This does eliminate the ability to backup at that time, but the information is still accessible.
The drawback to P2P backup's lack of central dependency is that if an error occurs it can be harder to diagnose and resolve the issue. This could create headaches for some already busy businesses. Yet, with a relatively low setup price for most the option is becoming more desirable. One option to consider is the free services many companies have.
Private Cloud Storage
Private cloud storage can also be known as a virtual private network (VPN). An offsite location serves as your own paid for slice of storage, rather than how a user would be uploading their information to Dropbox or Google Docs. Beyond secure data storage, a VPN offers a way to communicate in a secure manner, much more than other services. This is an extension of their advanced technology.
Unlike P2P sharing VPNs offer support and customer care. This eliminates the frustration of diagnosing an non-centralized issue, saving valuable time. However, with a more complex setup a high knowledge of VPNs is needed. It is highly suggested that a professional manage this at all times. As is the case with any Internet based storage system a reliable connection is mandatory to back up any data. This is why it is integral that the VPN network guarantees minimal downtime in case an error is to occur on their side of the service.
The flexibility of VPNs offer businesses the ability to grow as the business does. There is no concrete structure that must be adhered to. The secured communication will allow offsite workers to connect as well with little struggle. VPNs seem to be the most popular in recent times, but without a proper working knowledge this could quickly become a huge frustration to a business.