(Whenever I refer to a cloud, I mean a third party cloud service, OK?)
The cloud, the thing that you do nowadays so the data will always be within your reach as if you just look up, point, see, and say, “That’s my cloud!” Sure, it’s quite reassurance to know the cloud might save you from a rainy day when the cloud actually shines and the rain has nothing to do with the cloud, but it has to do more with how your computers and local backup suddenly say bye bye to your precious data. The mighty cloud shines like a sun as it allows you to recover your data, but are you sure the cloud will always shine, bright, and dry?
You need to know that the cloud is for your convenience only, therefore it’s convenient but not really safe! Convenient? Yes, you can access your data anytime at anywhere as long any place has any Internet connection so any computer there is can allow you to access any file! A promise of conveniency and an extra point of redundancy might be just what some people need, but be very careful in relying on someone to take care your precious data! After all, it’s you who has the most interest in having such data out of harm’s way.
You might forget that an extra point of redundancy which the cloud promises might not be hard to set up yourself. You can rely on any third party cloud service and ignore that any third party cloud service might just be the many servers that hum cozily in some datacenters, but these servers and datacenters are just as susceptible to hardware failure, data corruption, and hacks as your local machines. In fact, third party cloud services might have more problems than your own machines since such cloud services have to scale up (e.g., bigger datacenter, more hardware, more sophisticated software) to keep up with demands. If demands aren’t there, third party cloud services will eventually dwindle away along with your data.
Cloud is shiny, bright, and pretty alright, but it’s so gorgeous only when the sky is just as bright. Cloud can get darkish and nasty when the rain pours down hard on you (this rain has nothing to do with the rain outside). So, don’t think the cloud is a miracle for all data problems, but just use the cloud as any other tool. Try to use the cloud when you actually need to backup some not so important data, because these data you want to have easy access to and care not so much if someone else might accidentally have a peek at. The truth is, within the cloud you never will have total control over your own data (i.e., except for the cloud that you actually host and run yourself). In a way, you can view the cloud as a safe where you can just reach for whatever at your convenience, and you know it will always be there unless…
The cloud should never be a place where you have had the need to keep your data safe and away from prying eyes. If you want to have redundancy for your precious data in case of data corruption, hardware failure, and the likes, you should store or backup multiple copies of such data locally. If you have to store or backup your data remotely, make sure at least you have full control of your machines (or even the cloud). One good example would be installing a machine in a datacenter which allows you to sign up for a co-hosting (i.e., also known as co-locating) plan, because this way you have full control of your machines (i.e., ensuring you have full control of your data at the cost of paying some monthly fee).
People might argue that the cloud will give you more free time since you don’t really have to worry about hardware failure, security measures, other technicalities and responsibilities in keeping your data and machine safe. Plus, it’s rather convenient! Nonsense! The cloud can have just as many problems, and you might not know anything about it since such problems might be taken care of without your presence. Sure, you don’t have to take care of such problems yourself, but when the real problems come knocking at you anyway, it’s when you know you should be at the helm when the problems go haywire to no end.
The argument is that bad things happen, with or without the cloud, therefore the cloud isn’t a miracle but just another tool among tools within your famous computing toolbox. Use it wisely, and you have the bright, shiny, pretty, and happy cloud. Use it wrongly, and you have one heck of a monster that eats and might even share your data with another monster (i.e., a hacker’s machine). You should take the approach to be safe than sorry when it comes down to how to use a third party cloud. How so? Check out the random tips below:
- Only store data that you might want to share with someone in the cloud
- Encryption can be broken, but if you must store super important data that you might not want anyone to take a peek at, you must encrypt such data in the cloud
- Backup only unimportant data in the cloud
- If you must share cloud data, make sure you have the option of creating a share directory so only people that you grant access can take a look at a specific directory and data
- Do not allow people to have the ability to change your data in the share directory (e.g., no write permission, no execute permission, no delete permission)
- If you must allow some people to download your data in the share directory, you must know that you’re liable for sharing such data (i.e., do not share data that aren’t yours)
- Cloud encourages behavior where you log onto any computer to access data, therefore such data should not be important to you at all if you intend to log into your cloud through public computers
- Cloud isn’t a miracle or should it be replacing your usual local storages, because it’s just an extra point in data redundancy plan of yours, but for unimportant data only
- Cloud can be hacked and might be more targeted by hackers than your regular machines (i.e., all types of data for hackers to mine in a single point)