Should You Trust the Cloud With Your Song Library?

A look at the pros and cons of keeping your music stored online

Cloud Storage for Digital Music
Using the cloud to stream music to your portable.


Why Store Music in the Cloud?

As you probably already know, the term cloud storage is really just another buzzword for online space. Services that cater for the storage of music, in particular, tend to have a specific set of features which can include the following:

  • A built-in music player to stream your uploads.
  • Facility to create playlists directly in the cloud for music organization.
  • Music matching technology so you don't have to upload every single file. (e.g. iTunes Match).
  • Support for a range of different audio formats.
  • A way to download files to multiple devices.

But the big question you might be asking is, “why would I want to upload my music library in the first place?”

There are of course many advantages to using an online service that centrally stores your music. However, there are also downsides to using this technology too. To help you weigh up the benefits as well as the pitfalls of using online storage take a look at the two sections below that cover its pros and cons.

Cloud Storage Advantages for Music

Access your music from anywhere: Convenience is probably the most popular reason why people want to have all their music online. Rather than being locked down to a single mass storage device that probably isn't going to be that portable anyway, you can use the power of the Internet. It makes it easy to access your stored songs (and stream them if this facility is available) to any device that has an Internet connection.

Disaster recovery: One of the great benefits of storing your valuable music library online is to guard against a disaster. Using remote storage isolates your expensive collection from major disasters such as flooding, fire, theft, virus, etc. You can then recover your music library after the event from your personal online locker.

Share music: Storing your music online using some services makes it possible to legally share via playlists. Many social music networking sites now provide tools to share your media on popular social networks like Facebook etc. That said, keep in mind that you should never directly share music files with others over P2P networks or other forms of distribution that would infringe on copyright.

Disadvantages of Keeping Your Songs Online

You need an Internet connection: To be able to access your online storage, you obviously need an Internet connection. If you find that you urgently need to access your music collection and don’t have an Internet connection, then this could lead to delays.

Security: Because access to your valuable music library is controlled through security credentials (username, password, etc.), your media files may be insecure if this area is weak. Always use strong security passphrases when using cloud storage.

Less Control: Even though your music files may be secure, you will have less control over how or where (server locations) it is stored. The company that hosts your files can choose how it stores the data on its virtual servers.

A worst-case scenario is, "what if the company goes out of business?" Or, "what happens to your files if the hosting company decides to change its terms?" For example, it could reduce the amount of storage you're allowed. This has occurred to free accounts in the past. These have either been closed completely or significantly reduced in size.