Choosing Cloud Storage Services

The terms “cloud” and “cloud storage” have become buzzwords over the last decade, although the concept dates back a lot further, to a time when network connections made it impractical for anything more than a few files. The use of cloud services has growth rapidly, from offering only a few gigabytes of storage to multi-terabyte plans and even unlimited capacity in some cases.

Many cloud server providers offer a free storage capacity, mainly to allow users to assess the service before committing to any payment scheme. Few users or businesses will find the capacity available from the free service satisfactory for storing their data, especially in today’s world where most of us create gigabytes of high resolution photos and videos. For many users, even those with relatively slow broadband connections, storing data for backup purposes on a cloud server will be a satisfactory solution to safeguard their files, against a failure which would require data recovery services.

Data Capacity and Bandwidth Considerations

An extremely important consideration when assessing the suitability of using a cloud service provider is the amount of newly generated data which must be uploaded each day and how much would need to be downloaded in the event of a catastrophic event destroying the company servers. If the amount of data being generated each day is very high, it has the potential to saturate the bandwidth, which can slow the eventually network connection for all users.

When it comes to restoring the data following a disaster, it is important to know an approximate timescale for restoring the data required to return the company to an operational status. It has been known for companies whose data is secured on a cloud server, to contact DiskEng to recover the data from their failed RAID array, as it would take several weeks to restore all the data, a prohibitive timescale. Such an issue raises serious questions about the suitability of using a service where the restoration time could put the future of the company at risk.

Data Synchronisation Problems

Although many companies still operate a central server, it is quite common for important files to be stored on local computers. It is essential that these are automatically backed up, which relies on the software being installed correctly and the individual user storing the files in the correct folders. It is important that the operation of the software is checked regularly, as well as ensuring all critical data files are being uploaded to avoid the risk of losing important data.

One popular solution, particularly for those subscribing to Microsoft Office, is OneDrive which allows documents and other files to be shared among users and updated as changes are made. It is important to ensure that all users have the proper training, as giving the wrong answer to a question about accepting outside changes could result in changes to a document not being saved. It is also important that control over deleting files from the cloud server is limited to avoid accidental or malicious deletion of important data files.

Data Recovery from Cloud Servers

The ability to restore your files following a computer failure is one of the major selling points for cloud service providers. As already discussed, if your broadband connection and the volume of data which needs to be restored, would result in a timescale of several weeks, it is highly likely that the service is not appropriate as a main backup service. If only a few files are required immediately, it is important to know beforehand whether you have full control over the order in which files are restored.

The development of a business continuity plan within any company is one of the most important decisions and should not be rushed through without assessing all aspects of the service. This includes the amount of data being generated, what data would need to be restored to allowed the company to still run their operations. Creating a business continuity plan and never assessing it until a disaster occurs could risk unaccounted for issues delaying the restoration of the files. It is therefore important that the business continuity plan is reviewed on a regular basis to avoid any surprises becoming apparent at the point when the plan is required.

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