What is 'Cloud Storage'

Cloud storage is a way for businesses and consumers to save data securely online so it can be accessed anytime from any location and easily shared with those who are granted permission. Cloud storage also offers a way to back up data to facilitate recovery.

BREAKING DOWN 'Cloud Storage'

Cloud storage offers a simple way to store and/or move data in a secure and safe manner. Think about buying a new computer and needing a fast and secure way to transfer all your files.

Cloud storage can also be used to archive data that requires long-term storage but doesn't need to be accessed frequently, such as certain financial records.

History of Cloud Storage

Cloud storage is believed to have been invented by computer scientist Dr. Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider in the 1960s. About two decades later, CompuServe began to offer its customers small amounts of disk space in order to store some of their files. In the mid 1990s, AT&T launched the first all web-based storage service for personal and business communication. Since then, a number of different services have become gained traction. Some of the most popular cloud storage providers as of early 2017 are Apple (iCloud), Amazon (Amazon Web Services - AWS) and Dropbox, as well as Google Docs and Gmail.

How Cloud Storage Works

Cloud storage works by allowing a client computer, tablet or smartphone to send and retrieve files online to and from a remote data server. The same data is usually stored on more than one server so that clients can always access their data even if one server is down or loses data. A cloud storage system can specialize in storing a particular type of data such as digital photos, or can provide for general storage of many types of data such as photos, audio files, text documents and spreadsheets. 

For example, a laptop computer owner might store personal photos both on her hard drive and in the cloud in case the laptop is stolen. 

How Cloud Storage Helps

Cloud storage helps businesses with major data storage needs to save a significant amount of space and money by eliminating the need for storage infrastructure on the business premises. The cloud storage provider owns and maintains all the necessary hardware and software so the cloud users don’t have to. Purchasing ongoing cloud storage may cost more in the long run, but it can be significantly less expensive up front. Further, businesses can almost instantly scale up or down how much cloud storage they have access to as their storage needs change. The cloud also enables employees to work remotely and outside of regular business hours while facilitating smooth document collaboration by allowing authorized employees easy access to the most updated version of a file. Using the cloud to store files can also have a positive effect on the environment, since it cuts down energy consumption. 

Cloud Storage Security

There is so much attention on cloud storage today in the digital era because so much of our sensitive personal data is stored in the cloud whether we voluntarily store it there or whether a company we do business with decides to store it there. As a result, cloud security is a major concern. Users wonder whether their information is safe, and increasing data breaches have demonstrated that sometimes it isn’t. Users are also concerned about whether the data they have stored on the cloud will be accessible when they need it.

While cloud storage may seem vulnerable due to the prevalence of hacking, the alternatives, such as onsite storage, have security vulnerabilities, too. Company-provided cloud storage can actually improve security by giving employees an alternative to using their personal accounts to back up and transfer files that they need to access outside the office.

A good cloud storage provider will save data in multiple places so that it survives any human errors, equipment failures or natural disasters. A reputable provider will also store and transmit data securely so that no one can access it without permission. Some users might also require that data be stored in such a way that it can only be read but not changed; this feature, too, is available through cloud storage.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Ichimoku Cloud

    The Ichimoku cloud is a chart used in technical analysis that ...
  2. Cloud on Title

    A cloud on title is any document or encumbrance that might invalidate ...
  3. Demurrage

    A demurrage is a term used in currency trading to denote the ...
  4. Convenience Yield

    A convenience yield is the benefit or premium associated with ...
  5. Data Science

    Data science is a field of Big Data that seeks to provide meaningful ...
  6. Data Breach

    A data breach is an unauthorized access and retrieval of sensitive ...
Related Articles
  1. Financial Advisor

    Cloud-High iPhone Prices: Impact Of The Cloud Tax (NFLX, AAPL)

    The move by various state revenue departments to impose taxes on cloud-based services will make it more costly for users to enjoy the iPhone's features.
  2. Insights

    VMware Takes a Stab at Cloud Computing (VMW)

    The data tech leader re-focuses efforts on public cloud computing with its new Cloud Foundation, naming IBM as the offering's first third-party partner.
  3. Investing

    VMware Cries Uncle, Joins Amazon Cloud (VMW, AMZN)

    The technology infrastructure giant will run its Cloud Foundation on Amazon Web Services public cloud servers.
  4. Insights

    Alibaba Opens Four New Data Centers (BABA, AMZN)

    The Chinese e-commerce giant's cloud division, which is estimated to have grown by 128% during the third quarter, is a strategic investment area for its future growth.
  5. Investing

    Google's Growing Cloud Ambitions

    Cloud is expected to be "one of the largest areas of investment and headcount growth in 2017"
  6. Investing

    Amazon, Microsoft Still Rule Cloud; Oracle, Alibaba May Catch Up

    There are new players in the cloud computing industry.
  7. Investing

    Google, Nutanix Announce Cloud Partnership

    The deal will help large enterprises sign up for Google's cloud service using Nutanix's products.
  8. Investing

    What's Behind Cloud Peak's 56% One-Month Rise? (CLD)

    With its year-to-date stock gains of 167%, coal producer Cloud Peak Energy has operated above the clouds for some time.
  9. Investing

    Microsoft’s Secret Weapon: Cloud Division (MSFT)

    As the global tech pioneer's hybrid cloud offerings lead to another quarter of double digit growth, a wave of new competitors stand to challenge Azure.
  10. Investing

    Huawei: New Competitor in China's Cloud Market

    Alibaba and Amazon take on a new rival in the Chinese cloud computing market.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Why is the Dark Cloud Cover pattern important for traders?

    Learn the significance for traders of the dark cloud cover candlestick pattern, a bearish indicator closely related to the ... Read Answer >>
  2. What are the most common operating expenses for an online business?

    Learn about the common expenses of online businesses and find out about some of the tax implications of new business expenses ... Read Answer >>
  3. What causes oil prices to fluctuate?

    Discover how OPEC, demand and supply, natural disasters, production costs and political instability are some of the major ... Read Answer >>
  4. Is Apple Pay safe and free?

    Learn more about Apple Pay, one of Apple's newest and most metamorphic programs that is changing the way consumers purchase ... Read Answer >>
  5. What is the most important type of data used in business analytics?

    Consider what makes data useful in business analytics, and why companies should search for the types of data that provide ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center