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In the previous post, I discussed why data security is a crucial part of a freelancers’ work management, and the three types of data security we need to have: backup; archiving; and, synchronization.
In this post, I’ll discuss the two main options we have when it comes to data storage: physical and online storage, their pros and cons, and which one we really need.
Physical Data Storage
What it is:
Physical data storage is the type we’re most familiar with. It means saving data in a form of storage we can touch and hold. Remember the 3.5-inch floppy disks of yesteryear? Nowadays, we save data in CDs, DVDs, thumb drives and external drives.
Physical data storage is quite inexpensive, if you consider the amount of data you could store in, say, an external drive or even a tiny thumb drive.
Another thing physical data storage has going for it is the amount of control we have over them. We can keep them where we want to, and access them anytime – assuming they’re nearby.
But, because we are dealing with physical objects, this type of data storage is susceptible to the usual physical limitations: physical damage, theft, wear and tear, and loss.
If you keep your disks in the same place where you keep your computer or laptop, then a fire or theft or natural disaster will leave you without both your computer and your backup or archival data. An option would be to keep your backup and archival disks in another location. But this would make retrieval much harder.
Another drawback to physical data storage is that you need space to keep them. And then you’ll need to put in the time and effort to organize everything so you can easily retrieve whatever you want. Eventually, you’ll have so many CDs filled with family pictures, for example, that finding one particular photograph you need would take you many minutes, if not hours, of looking through CD after CD.
Online Data Storage
What it is:
Online data storage means keeping your data on huge web servers, which you access through the Internet. It’s also commonly known as storing your data in the “cloud.” You will rely on companies that provide this service; you can’t do it entirely by yourself (somebody please correct me if I’m wrong about this).
Online data storage has many things going for it. It’s increasingly cheap. I’ve seen services, which let you back up unlimited amounts of data for only $5 a month.
The amount of data you can store in the cloud is virtually unlimited – the only limits are those imposed by the company providing cloud storage for you.
And since your data is in the cloud, you can access it on any computer, as long as you have Internet access (although some services may require you to download software into the computer you’re using first).
But cloud data storage isn’t without its disadvantages. The main one, for me, is being entirely at the mercy of a third party who may or may not stay around forever. What happens to my family pictures and videos, if or when this company folds up? Or is hacked or infected with a terrible computer virus?
I’ve read the terms and conditions of several companies providing cloud data storage services and none of them guarantee that my data will be around forever. They provide no warranties and should the unmentionable happen, I wouldn’t be able to go after them to compensate for my loss.
Another downside is the necessity to download the company’s software. Some of this software may or many not work with your computer’s operating system, as I found out the hard way (more on this in a later post).
Physical and online data storage each has its own advantages and disadvantages. My conclusion is that we need both. Yes, it may be a hassle to copy files in disks and the cloud at the same time. Plus, it’s an added expense.
But for me, the additional security of having both types of data storage are well worth the extra cost and work. After all, we’re not only talking about priceless, irreplaceable data (such as my kids’ baby pictures). We’re also talking about our livelihood – the stuff that feeds and clothes and shelters our families.
In the next post, I’ll be talking about specific products and services we can use for data backup, archiving and synchronization – both physical and online. I’ll even let you know the results of my hands-on trial of several of these items (Oh, my poor credit card).
In the meantime, do share: which type of data storage do you use – physical or online? Post your answer in the comments section.
Looking forward to reading them!
PS: I’m no computer geek, so if you think I got anything terribly wrong, please feel free to correct me. I wouldn’t want to misinform anybody. Thank you!
photo credit: teclasorg