USB Flash Drive vs. Cloud Storage Infrastructure

There has been a huge amount of interest and buzz surrounding cloud computing, storage, and infrastructure. Everyone wants to be on the cloud; some because they need it and some just to be a part of the buzz.

Cloud storage is gaining ground with Google, DropBox, iDrive, Amazon, Microsoft, and many others competing for the business. The idea is quite simple – allow users to store data remotely so that it can be accessed from any device and any location in the world where there is Internet connectivity. Behind the scenes there are large data server farms that are air, heat, and vibration controlled with redundant systems that all work to maximize uptime and data reliability. For many, the Cloud storage services are invaluable tool at their disposal.

However, there are a couple downsides to the Cloud storage service, no matter how invaluable it may be. The most troubling is sending your data to companies that may harvest, analyze, and potentially borrow your data from you. “What are you talking about?”, you ask. The following excerpt is from Google Terms of Use as of March 1, 2012: “When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.” Even though many say that this is the usual small print text that companies include in their terms of use, I say “It makes me very uneasy using their service when they use such language!”

Another, a much more simpler downside, is data availability. It’s ironic, however all the Cloud data is accessed over the Internet; therefore you are always at the mercy of the Internet Service Provider (ISP)  to provide the best service possible. No connectivity means that your data is safely stored in the industrial data warehouse completely out of your reach.

The ISP does not necessarily have to be blamed for connectivity issues to the Cloud. If your business has insufficient bandwidth for your employees, you may get stuck spending your time looking at the progress bar as it slowly tests your patience while opening a single document.

The USB Flash Drive is your answer! Well… maybe I am slightly biased towards the flash drives on this site. Please forgive my eagerness. The USB storage definitely has some answers, but it is not a solution for all.

The USB storage, whether it is in the SSD or a small flash drive package, offers significant simple benefits.

  1. Your data is not shared with any company and the terms of use are your own.
  2. The data can be simply secured using great encryption tools (some free and some not – your choice).
  3. Data availability is at your fingertips.

It is quite logical that USB flash drive or SSD offers simple benefits to the Cloud storage service. However, there is a downside.

  1. You need to worry about the backup (Flash memory does go bad, just like any other technology).
  2. If you loose your drive, there is no way to recover it unless you have a backup.
  3. There are no additional services for data sharing as offered by the Cloud services.

Picking a storage solution is a matter of a personal preference, a technological set of beliefs, and your specific needs and requirements. If you don’t feel threatened by the terms and conditions of the Cloud service providers and have great network connectivity, the Cloud can be the choice. If you’re a little paranoid (like me) and like to have an always available storage with no strings attached, the USB flash drive or SSD may be your answer.


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