As we all rely more and more on backing up via the convenience of cloud services, we have to ask ourselves, “is it safe for us to use a cloud service” more than ever. In this article we look at the pros, cons and why we should or should not use cloud services. A cloud service could be an essential part of your backup solutions, which we talked about in a previous article, so you need to decide wisely.
What are cloud services?
I know a lot of people don’t understand what a cloud service is as it’s so accessible and not much thought goes into it. Basically you’re loading your data into rooms full of hard drives or equivalent storage, where the data will be stored on a number of huge devices, accessible through the internet. If one set of devices goes down for any reason, they usually have a backup or two.
There are many different companies who offer storage for your photographs and raw files, from Google, Amazon, Mega, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox and many many more. Each one offers a certain amount of storage, usually for free, with the choice to expand that storage for a cost.
What can go wrong?
Although for the most part it is highly unlikely that you would lose your data overnight due to a companies system losing all their stored data, it could potentially happen, and there have been times when cloud storage systems have lost content from people’s uploads.
There are other, more common reasons for things to be wary of or go wrong though, and here are a few things to be concerned about.
• Cloud services ending for whatever reason (company closing, being bought over etc) is a real threat and has affected numerous cloud services in the past and continues to do so. When this happens they usually give you at least 30 days to download all your data, or occasionally will transfer your data to another service for you. However, it could happen and you could potentially lose all your data and photos.
• Changing their terms of uploads, while not so common can easily happen as shown with Google. From June 1st 2021 Google Photos will no longer support their unlimited free uploads (at slightly compressed resolution), so all uploads will be at full resolution and will eat up your free 15GB that they offer quite quickly (depending on your usage). That means you’ll have to pay to upgrade your storage for any future data you upload. The good news is, you will not lose any data you have placed there before the cut-off date.
• You can change your computer and realise that the license that you thought meant lifetime subscription as a one off payment is only valid for one computer, so when you want to start uploading your images off another computer you have to re-subscribe.
• Privacy can be an issue, and some cloud services may state that they can use your images at any point. Although the chances of this are extremely low, it’s something you should be aware of.
Should you use cloud backup?
Of course you should use cloud backup, but you need to look for a service that looks like it’s sustainable, a service that is well known with a good history behind them.
Using cloud services as back up for your images is invaluable in this day and age, but please remember it’s part of your backup solution, and just like any part of that chain, it can sometimes fail. The benefits of a great cloud service outweigh the negatives. You’ll have access to all your work instantly, on any device, whatever you are, plus you can share images to friends, colleagues and clients quickly a safely.
In one way, it’s the ultimate off-site backup solution. If you were to lose everything because of some catastrophe, you’ll still have your photos in the cloud, sand that in itself is worth using a cloud service.