What Is Cloud Storage?

Access your data from anywhere using cloud storage

Businessman cloud computing sending storage boxes on conveyor belt from desktop computer to cloud
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Cloud storage is a term that refers to online space that you can use to store your data. As well as keeping a backup of your files on physical storage devices such as external hard drives or USB flash drives, cloud storage provides a secure way to remotely store your important data. Online storage solutions are usually provided using a large network of virtual servers that come with tools for managing files and organizing your virtual storage space.

How Cloud Storage Works

The simplest type of cloud storage occurs when users upload files and folders on their computers or mobile devices to an internet server. The uploaded files serve as a backup in case the original files are damaged or lost. Using a cloud server permits the user to download files to other devices when needed. The files are typically protected by encryption and are accessed by the user with login credentials and password. The files are always available to the user, as long as the user has an internet connection to view or retrieve them.

Examples of Personal Cloud Storage Options

Although there are many cloud storage providers, some of the more familiar names include:

  • Amazon Drive offers users 5GB of free cloud storage to users who want to store files, photos, and videos. If the user has an Amazon Prime account, the free plan includes unlimited photo storage and 5 GB for other file types. Users who want more space on Amazon Drive can purchase 100 GB or 1 TB for a fee.
  • Google Drive is cloud storage that is built to work seamlessly with Google products and offers an offline mode for some categories of documents, which does not require internet access. Users receive 15GB free to store their documents, photos, music, and videos, all of which are accessible from any device. For a fee, Google Drive can accommodate up to 30 TB of data. 
  • Apple iCloud is cloud storage for Macs, iPhones, iPads, iPod touch and Windows PCs. Users receive 5GB of free storage for cloud storage of photos, videos, documents, app data and more. Several larger storage plans are available for a fee. You can structure iCloud to automatically back up your mobile devices or handle the file transfers personally.

Considerations When Choosing a Cloud Storage Provider

Because there are so many cloud storage providers out there that would like your business, it can be confusing when you start looking for one. Look at several factors for any service you are considering using:

  • Security. Your data must be encrypted to keep it private.
  • Price. This is determined by how much space you anticipate needing. Many services give you either a trial period or a free amount of storage to let you try out their services. If you are in a trial period, don't upload any sensitive data.
  • Ease of Use. Uploading and accessing your files on the cloud should be clear and easy to understand. If it isn't, look elsewhere.