Cloud Storage vs. External Hard Drives
One of the most frequent causes of computer service and PC repair here in the Milford area is the failure of a hard drive. So which is the best solution for you, an internal hard drive, an external hard drive, or a virtual drive that you access in the "cloud"? Let's take a look at all the possibilities.
Today, we will be focusing on choosing the best data storage solutions. We will also take a look at some general statistics concerning hardware-stored and up-in-the-cloud data. It is also important to note that there are many misconceptions concerning the ideal use of each storage types, as well as with some lesser known features of both.
The most standard arguments when communities discuss these storage solutions are well known. These include different facts such that external hard drives can get everything backed-up very fast, and rarely become a target of a hacker attack.
On the other hand, external hard drives also have their down sides - they can be stolen, experience complete hardware failure and even catch on fire.
Cloud-based storage has its down sides as well. Even though your data is always available on the cloud, the service is reliable and simple to use - cloud-based storage sometimes takes a lot more of your time while transferring files back and forth, and your data is also more likely to be hacked on the cloud, than on your HDD.
Which Is Better, Cost-Wise?
We have covered the basics of both benefits and down sides of these two data storage solutions. Now, lets say that your data will not be hacked online and your hard disk drive will not catch on fire - what's more worth getting, a best buy?
There's an enormous amount of information out there about external hard drives, from some of the most popular brands such as Western Digital, Seagate, LaCie, Samsung and others, as well as almost a 100 cloud-based backup services.
Some of the most familiar online services are DropBox, Box, Carbonite, Crash Plan, Mozy and so on.
After conducting basic research, gathering statistics and most valuable reviews online, we can find out that the pricing structure of hard disk drives is far more simple to take in than that of online services. External data storage drives mostly follow a simple pricing standard: More storage = more money.
Detailed statistics show that all HDDs cost from as low as 10 to 50 cents per one gigabyte of available storage, but of course there are always exceptions and special editions, and speed of the HDD and its RPM is something most buyers would consider as well.
This means less storage does not always equal less money, the quality of the product, durability, speed and size can and should play a role, concerning the storage solution decision-making process.
Now, considering cloud based storage services, it's needless to say that these can vary, big time. Online backup services come along with different features and benefits from different providers. For example, some of the most expensive cloud based storage services commonly provide better file encryption, along with more than one restore point and fully functional, reliable, 24/7 customer service.
On the other side, cheap online storage services offer standard safety features (theoretically easier to be hacked), and other basic features such as a single restore point. Cheap online solutions are generally used for storing not-so-important, or sensitive data.
And so, as cloud based storage solutions vary in features they come with, they do so with pricing as well. An online storage service can cost you anywhere from 2 cents up to $10 for a single gigabyte of available storage space.
To Summarize The Best Purchase Option
As much as you would want to, you can't. Choosing the best buy option in this case isn't so simple. As mentioned before, all these data storage options vary between themselves, the features and benefits they provide, and therefore the end price will deeply vary based on your needs. It all depends on how much storage you need, and what it is you are storing in the first place, as well as how often and how fast you would want to be able to access, or transfer your stored data.
Now, all those side-features aside, lets check out a range of backup scenarios, considering your only goal is to save money and nothing else. We'll discuss storage capabilities from small storage sizes to multi-terabyte options.
Small Storage: Up to 30GB
When you only need to backup simple documents, photos or small media files, there is no need to even think about the price. These extra small storage needs online are on the house! That's right, many cloud-based storage services offer free plans which sometimes include even up to 50GB of free storage space! Others like DropBox offer up to 10GB of free storage as well.
These are perfect for your humble storing needs and often come in handy when you're out of space with your HDD. It's also important to note that while these plans are completely and totally free, they also do not include all the benefits and features of paid plans. These can include things like limiting the max size of a single file you want to back up online.
Here, the conclusion is obvious, if you want to back up a small collection of HD movies, or a few gigabytes of music and pictures, cloud-based online storage solution is the way to go!
Decent-Sized Storage: Up to 150GB
Lets consider you have simple storage needs and really don't plan on having more than 100-150GB of files. Now, that is all fine and you can settle with a HDD which of course carries the risk of randomly crashing and experiencing total failure, or maybe your OS will decide it needs complete formatting as well.
Again, those side-features aside, when we talk price-wise, getting these 100GB HDDs doesn't seem to be a popular option nowadays. It's just that you can either pay sometimes hundreds of bucks of up to 150GB of external storage, or you can use those free online services to storage your main data, and the cheap cloud storage services for those extra gigabytes you may need.
A lot of people recommend cheap online storage solutions such as hubiC, OpenDrive or Box Starter. Again, it would seem that the cloud-based storage service takes the best buy trophy.
Getting Up There: 500GB
In today's widely connected days, it is obvious that this amount of storage is pretty much needed for an average user. Whether the "user" consists of two or three siblings, or one video editor, gamer and media enthusiast. Now, the somewhat standard cost for a cloud-based storage service is about 42 cents (per gigabyte), and that's per year. On the other hand, the price per year is 41 cents for the external hard drives - so close.
It is also noteworthy that external HDDs tend do break down, but there's only a 5-10% chance this will happen during the first three years, however, this needs to be taken into consideration. Also, after the first three years, the chance of disk failure increases, almost doubling year after year.
That is why we are assuming a reasonable HDD owner will re-purchase the storage device once every 3 to 4 years, and as we're dealing with the "best buy option" here, we will include that into the price.
While this does mean that the price of external storage solutions almost triples because of standard 3-year warranty, we still believe the best buy option here is the HDD.
Going Above And Beyond
Lets talk serious storage, thinking about going up to 1TB of storage or even multiple terabytes becomes really interesting, price-wise. It would seem that the cloud-based storage solutions fall a little behind HDDs here, money-wise, at least when going up to 1TB.
On the other hand, if you are planning on having multi-terabytes of storage space available, the online backup services take the win for sure. For example, multiple years of online storage, lets say 3 years, would cost you about 4 cents per gigabyte, while the HDDs go for about 12+ for a single gigabyte.
It looks like the cloud-based services take the overall winnings when it comes to choosing the best cost-effective storage option. Not to mention that online backup services are becoming more popular and accessible year after year, therefore we will have even more providers, at even lower costs, with better benefits for sure!
Of course, it is also widely recommended that you simple do both, if you can afford it, in the end, making sure your data is safe and sound, and won't be lost is the most important thing, and the point of all this.