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What Is Cloud Computing and What Are Its Advantages & Disadvantages?

Posted on by Dawna M. Roberts in PrivacyFebruary 25, 2021


Technical terms like cloud computing are tossed around quite a bit, but if you are considering cloud computing for your home or business, you must know about the benefits and the risks.

What Is Cloud Computing?

Just about everyone and every business is using “the cloud” in some capacity. Cloud computing refers to the virtualization of storage, meaning that instead of having a physical device sitting in your office that holds all your files, everything is stored offsite in the cloud. The cloud is really just massive servers owned and managed by companies like Google, Apple, and Amazon. 

A few examples of cloud computing are when your entire iPhone syncs with the iCloud, and your stuff is automatically backed up, and you can use everything on all your Apple devices. Another would be Gmail. Your email is housed in the cloud, but you can easily use it on any email device, even the web. 

There are a lot of benefits to using cloud computing. However, there is also a list of risks to be aware of too.

The Benefits of Cloud Computing

There is no doubt that the world is evolving rapidly, and cloud computing is at the heart of it all. Most things we take for granted are in some way connected to cloud computing. The benefits that cloud computing offers are:

Scalability - With cloud computing, you don’t have to worry about running out of space; most cloud environments can handle whatever you throw at them. If you need more speed or storage at specific times, they accommodate. With some cloud services, you pay for what you use. With others, you select a specific size but can increase/decrease at will.

Access - Being able to access your files, folders, images, and communications from anywhere is priceless. Everything syncs and is kept up to date automatically.

Flexibility - Cloud computing offers a lot of flexibility so that you can work from home, at the office, and remotely collaborate with co-workers seamlessly. 

Lower IT costs - You can reduce your IT costs by not having to manage so much hardware, software, and data. Hand over the responsibility to the experts who have a 24/7 dedicated team of professionals to watch your stuff.

Easy to use - Most cloud computing frameworks are very easy to use, even for laypeople. 

Offsite backups/disaster recovery protection - All your stuff is backed up offsite and kept in a remote location in the event of a fire or data loss. You can be back up and running quickly and easily if disaster strikes. 

Automatic updates - You don’t have to worry about hardware or software updates. Using cloud computing services, the vendor handles all of that for you. 

The Risks of Cloud Computing

Before putting all your eggs in one “cloud computing,” basket remember there are also inherent risks you need to be aware of, such as: 

Privacy - Whenever your data is outside of your physical control, there is the risk of privacy loss. Privacy laws often dictate the use of personal and sensitive data, and you must follow the guidelines when collecting and storing it, especially on cloud-based platforms. 

Security - There is always the risk of a data breach and security issues when using a third-party vendor. From all the hacking incidents over the past year, it is clear; no service is 100% safe. 

Compliance - Depending on your industry and location, you may have to consider compliance restrictions about what and how you can store in the cloud. 

Data loss and recovery - It is essential to research how your cloud computing provider handles data loss and recovery. How quickly can they get you back up and running with perfect access to your data if the worst was to happen? 

Data breach risk - Ask pointed questions about the security protocols in place to gauge your risk of data breaches. 

Accessibility - If you or the cloud-vendor loses internet connection, you will essentially be cut off from your data. How do you maintain business continuity in that situation? That is another big issue to consider before deciding upon cloud computing.

Transitioning your business to the cloud is not something to take lightly. It can definitely offer you a ton of great benefits that may enhance your ability to operate efficiently. However, you must also carefully weigh the risks and see what you are willing to sacrifice.

The best of both worlds would be a semi-cloud computing solution where you have a lot of your stuff stored in the cloud but also access to old-school records and computer-based resources, so you aren’t out of business if a disaster occurs with your cloud vendor.

Take your time to research the best cloud computing services. Read reviews, ask around and do your homework before deciding. It is also a good idea to diversify and spread things around, so all your data is not stored in one location. 

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