With the days of having a locked filing cabinet to store all your important data now long gone, your modern-day options are the cloud and external hard drives. But, how can you know which is the right choice? Both have pros and cons and both involve some cost and risk.
We’ve broken down some key details of both to help you decide which is the right option for you.
From a security point of view, an external hard drive is hard to beat. It’s in your possession, in a safe place of your choosing and only yourself and those you allow, have access to it. A technology thief with a specific interest in hard drives aside, it’s safe in your hands.
If you store your data on the cloud, you’re handing your data over to a complete stranger, who may not be able to keep your data safe regardless of the measures they have put in place. Yes, online security and technology is improving all the time. But, the people who want that data are also consistently upping their game, making it a tough, ongoing battle.
We say: the external hard drive is the winner on security, for the moment at least.
Data portability and accessibility
This is a tough one.
A personal external hard drive is small and easily portable. It can also be connected and used regardless of whether or not there is an internet connection. But, if you don’t have the right cable or wireless operating system, then its contents are inaccessible.
The cloud, meanwhile, is available anywhere in the world where you can get online. You can access most cloud-based content from any device, provided you can remember your username and password, that is!
We say: the cloud wins on portability and accessibility, although it’s a close call.
When it comes to cost, you have to look at the different levels of data storage you require.
The price of personal external hard drives is lower than ever at the moment, which makes them financially inviting for storage between 50 gigabytes and up to 5-6 terabytes.
When it comes to the cloud, you can get free storage for up to 50 gigabytes from companies such as google, dropbox, SkyDrive and iCloud. You could use a few different ones and get a reasonable amount of online storage for free, or you can start paying for more storage from a single provider. It’s not a lot more than a hard drive, but, if you don’t spread your cloud storage around, it will be more expensive until you get to the really big numbers, terabytes. At that point it will be cheaper and more practical to opt for cloud storage.
We say: external hard drive wins for regular storage levels.
The winner is…
Based on our brief look at these three key details, it looks like the external hard drive is the winner! It’s a close call though and not always the right choice for everyone.
Another option, if you’re still not convinced, is to hedge you bets and use both. If you make use of the free cloud storage to double back up your most prized data files, then it’s a win, win. And, you can decide for yourself which works best for you.