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Where should I store my data?

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In day-to-day working life, we utilise huge amounts of digital data, sometimes without even realising it. Making a phone call? The contact information for that person is data stored within your mobile device. Collating reports for your team? That is all stored data. I could give a lot more examples, but we’d be here a while.

For the most part, storing and finding data that you need is pretty easy, and it’s not something that we often think about. But what if you can’t find the file you need? Or it isn’t available to access from your current location?

The importance of storing data in the right places is tantamount to a good working and productivity plan and will overall make your life a lot easier! So, let’s take a look at some of the ways you can keep your information safe, secure and still accessible.

Local Storage

The majority of al business and personal data stored is done so by way of local storage. What this means is the files, folders, images and videos that you save to a computer, laptop, tablet, mobile device or similar. All of these devices contain hard drives, and in turn, they contain the data.

This allows only that one system to access the data on that hard drive, which while it is very secure, it can also have it’s drawbacks. Let’s say you’ve got a big presentation coming up, and you have all of the files you need stored on your laptop. You get to the client’s site, start getting things set up ready, and one of a thousand thing goes wrong; you’ve forgotten to bring your laptop charger, the computer is damaged and won’t work, or you’ve even left it behind completely. That presentation is now stuck, and you can’t get access to it!

This can apply to a whole heap of scenarios and could throw a lot of issues your way. However, when it comes to security, if the only computer that can access that file is password protected, then only you can access that file (as long as only you know the password!). 

USB/Portable Storage

One method to combat the limitations of local storage that is quite widely employed is the use of portable storage devices such as USB sticks, portable hard drives and similar devices. Some people have even been known to use their phones as portable storage for documents and files!

This is a great solution for people with lots of data, information and files that they need to move around regularly, such as swapping on hotdesks, going to client sites, or working from home. Additionally, any computer that has a functioning USB (or relevant) port should be able to, without much hassle, access the data on these portable systems.

Without trying to sound like a broken record, this means that any computer can access the files stored upon these devices. This allows anybody to view, edit, or potentially even steal these files without requiring passwords or permission. On top of this, due to the small and compact nature of USB sticks in particular, they can be very easy to lose or leave behind, making them a relatively insecure storage method for confidential or sensitive information.

Another drawback that, while it doesn’t come up often it can still be a problem for some users, is storage space. USB sticks or portable drives don’t tend to have as much storage capacity as local systems with hard drives, as they become quite expensive to manufacture and purchase. For saving office documents and files, this doesn’t tend to be an issue. However, for projects such as sound, graphic, and video editing, these files can be huge in size, and you may struggle to find a compact drive with enough storage space to handle more than a couple of files at a time.

Server Storage

So, local and portable storage solutions tend to have a raft of accessibility issues. An easy way to solve this? Server storage! Localising all of your work and files onto a personal or business server allows any computer system with internet access to the network to connect and view the data stored upon it.

This has a multitude of benefits; easy accessibility from any connected system, as stated above, is one of the more major boons, as it allows teams, managers, and even departments to work collaboratively on projects and view progress markers with ease. Also, in the event of a local system issue (a broken laptop, for example), then all of the data isn’t lost or stuck within the computer, as it is saved to the local server. Nobody likes having to start a project again from scratch!

It’s not all sunshine and puppies, however. Server storage is great for businesses of all sizes, but the bigger the business, the larger the server, and therefore the higher cost in purchasing and maintenance. Small businesses might get away with a NAS (Network-Attached Storage) system, but this has limited storage capability. Large rack-style servers (like you see in the movies) will require very regular monitoring, and even it’s own room with cooling systems to make sure that it doesn’t overheat and become damaged.

Servers also have a major requirement that could cause them to become useless at any time; internet connection. As long as your internet within the business is functioning, server access is simple. But once an internet or Wi-Fi router has a bit of a hiccup, then any and all files on the server would become inaccessible. This can majorly affect businesses that run software and programs through their servers, as this can cause all productivity to grind to a halt.

Cloud Storage

The final method for file and data storage is the Cloud. It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot and has become an integral part of modern businesses. While it seems to be a relatively modern storage solution, it has actually been developed and used (to a much lesser extent, of course) since the 1960’s.

Cloud storage allows for huge swathes of information, data, files and software to be stored, essentially, over the internet. The system comprises of huge off-site server farms, dedicated to continual storage and accessibility of data from anywhere in the world. While this might seem quite insecure compared to the previously mentioned solutions, the security systems in place in order to protect stored data are incredibly strong, including top-of-the-line firewalls and antivirus protection, encryption, and even power and physical redundancies to keep everything safe in the unlikely event of any damage being done to the physical components of the server farm.

Additionally, software and programs can be run remotely from Cloud-storage, allowing sectors such as finance, IT or any other infrastructure to easily access working programs without straining their own systems or data storage.

While it does still require a strong client-side internet connection in order to access it, the other drawbacks for cloud-based systems are very minimal, and tend to all be solved by the hosting company. It does come with a price tag, but the overall ease, simplicity and utility of the Cloud massively outweighs the cost

We hope this article has been of use to you and your business in deciding which storage systems would be the most appropriate for you and your team!

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