Online Storage vs. External Hard Drives

As high volumes of data accumulate, data storage becomes problematic for computer users. The only solution is to obtain a storage device capable of keeping up with the growing amount of data. The most widely used options are online backup storage, and external hard drives. Both have their own strong points as well as a few disadvantages.

Storage capacity and cost

Online services offer typically around two gigabytes of free data storage. Some offer up to twenty-five gigabytes or more. For the paid options, most of the popular services ask for around $5 as monthly fee for at least five gigabytes of online backup storage. A few ask for about the same amount and up to $25 monthly for unlimited space.

External hard drive prices continue to drop as their capacities grow until way beyond the one terabyte mark. Many external hard drives with a storage capacity of one terabyte sell for less than $200. For people who do not collect media files of great sizes, that is more than enough space for electronic data.

Ease of use, convenience, and added features

Lack of speed is a detriment with online backup storage. Large files require plenty of bandwidth to transfer data. To get around this issue, one needs to have a high-speed internet connection.

On the other hand, data access and sharing with online storage is extremely flexible. One can retrieve or share files over the web effortlessly with user-friendly applications built for these purposes. Data stored online can also be accessed with compatible portable devices such as a Smartphone. However, these could be temporarily unavailable to the user if online connectivity falters.

Data transfer from the computer’s local drives to the external hard drive likewise takes a long time for large files. Users also worry about too much heat being generated that damages the device as it works overtime to transfer bulks of data. Depending on the quality, the hard drive may also produce too much noise aside from heat, leading to user concerns about the drive’s health.

On the positive side, working with an external drive for data storage is as easy as plugging it into the computer’s USB port and using a familiar interface to drag and drop files to their new locations.

External hard drives continue to shrink physically, while their storage capacity increases, adding to their convenience and portability. Thus, the user does not have to be online to access needed data as they are already physically in his or her person. Of course, some users might view this as a disadvantage if they dislike carrying their storage devices around all the time.

Security Concerns

External hard drives, along with all the data they contain, could be lost to theft or damaged through natural causes, mechanical failure, or virus attacks.

Data inside the drive need to be encrypted to protect it from exposure even in the event of theft, which can occur if the drive is physically accessible to anyone other than the owner, or if the owner himself or herself leaves the drive unprotected while traveling.

Online backup storage minimizes the risks linked to the use of external hard drives. Data stored online is safe from viruses and physical theft. However, any online storage service is still a potential target for people with malicious intent.

To be veriloquent, most computer users at this point employ both methods for their data storage tasks. One method does not really hold a clear advantage over the other in terms of overall functionality and user preferences.

Some Additional Thoughts on Online Storage

Cost efficiency:

If you are a large business or if you deal with a lot of data-critical, as well as non-critical, would you like to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars for hardware to store your data? The answer would probably be a resounding ‘no’. Businesses are trying to cut costs in every way possible, so removing the need for hard disks would mean a big reduction in their budget. Instead, they can use the same money to invest in more efficient and hassle-free storage options.

Access your data anywhere:

Imagine not having to carry around hard disks or USBs wherever you go. The freedom of accessing humungous volumes of data at any remote location has been one of the biggest plus points of online storage. It doesn’t matter if you are in a small town, a foreign country, or in an urban jungle- you can access your information as long as you have an internet connection.

Safety from any kind of physical damage:

With an online storage backup option, you don’t need to worry about any kind of damage that can occur due to a fire, hurricane, or any other natural disaster. Moreover, you don’t need to worry about breaking and entering and data theft. Your data is stored securely in a non-physical form in a remote, undisclosed server.

Low Maintenance:

Hard drives are prone to technical problems that can render your data inaccessible. In many cases, your data may even be deleted or unrecoverable. You need to constantly inspect and update or repair any sections of hardware, and this means a continuous stream of money going in just for maintenance purposes. You can get rid of the added responsibility of maintaining hard disks by simply going in for an online storage system.

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