Thursday, May 24, 2012

Free Online Storage: Practical - But is it safe?

Who wouldn’t like to have his data available 24 /7, Accessible from everywhere using any computer or operating system?
How many times have you left home without your precious USB drive? Well worry no more because the internet has provided you with a solution!

Online Data Storage, with products like: Google Drive, iDrive, Sky Drive, and CX will give you the ability to stash your data on a virtual drive (cloud Storage) and access this data from approximately anyplace that has internet connection. 
Although online storage seems appealing and interesting but there are some concerns that should be taken into consideration when using these services.

Having tried many products myself I will try a more direct approach: 

  • Availability: Online storage provides users with access to their data virtually at any time, and anywhere.  
  • Free: Most online storage vendors provide free accounts for people to try their services. Using free accounts services users are granted between 5 and 25 GB of online storage.
  • Recovery: Storage drives can be used as backup drives, where users can upload their data and keep it available should they lose their original data.
  • Cross Platform: Since all that you need to access your data is an internet browser, and since nearly all platforms and operating systems are equipped with at least one browser. Users should have no difficulty accessing their files.
  • Sharing: After your files are uploaded to your cloud drive, it would be very easy to share a certain file with someone else, or even link it directly to your website.
  • Downtime: Since we are talking about the free service provided from some vendors, there is no guarantee that your files will be available 24/7. Although most of online storage providers brag about their compliance with the  Five Nines Availability (99.999% available) there is no solid guarantee of ultimate availability.
  • Bandwidth Limitations: There are two drawbacks within this aspect
  1. First, in some “Internet Primitive Countries” Internet Service Providers assign limited bandwidth speed and limited quota to their users. So if a user exceeds his preassigned quota extra charges will apply. For example, here in Lebanon, it would take me around 66 minutes to upload a 100MB file to the internet. And around 17 minutes to download the same file.
  2. The second drawback is related to the online storage vendor: since it is a free account,  bandwidth limitation is more likely to be forced by the vendor.
  • Data Security:  this is the most interesting part of online data storage; we tend to convince ourselves that since the vendor claims that our data is safe and sound, then no one could access it. But this is not the case; I believe that the moment you agree to upload your data to the so called internet drive, you should be aware that your data might be compromised. Your Storage Drive account might be hacked, your password guessed, revealed or even stolen. These things usually do happen, and when they do you lose Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability of your Data. Moreover, who could guarantee that the vendor doesn’t disclose any of your data?  
Finally, Cloud Storage is effective in storing, sharing and managing data, but when it comes to information security there should be a big question mark around your virtual drive.

1 comment:

  1. ofcourse online storage is safe and is very helpful as you can access your data anywhere you are.
    online file sharing