So, why am I writing about “the cloud”? As technology continues to advance, I’m challenged (in a healthy way) to keep up with my technical skills and all the options available for saving, syncing and sharing digital photos and other important documents; and I want to share that information with you. If you’re looking into cloud backup or storage options for your digital photos and/or other documents; this is for you; whether or not you are currently using a cloud service, or just getting started.
For the average consumer or family photographer, most of us are familiar with the “public cloud”, although more commonly called “the cloud”. Examples being DropBox, Google Photos, Shutterfly, Facebook, and more. To recap from last month’s article, “the Cloud” simply refers to any file (document, photo, video), data, or program that is stored over the Internet, not on your computer. In this article, I’m introducing the “private cloud”. Yep, there are different types of clouds: Public, Private and Hybrid. A “hybrid cloud” in simplistic terms is a combination of public and private cloud services. For instance, you could have a “private cloud” at home, but utilize a “public cloud” service such as iDrive or BackBlaze to backup your “private cloud” . But I want to focus more on the differences between public and private cloud storage.
What is a “Private Cloud”?
Before comparing the differences between public and private cloud storage, what exactly is a “private cloud”? A “private cloud”, or sometimes called “personal cloud”, is just another name for a Network Attached Storage, or NAS for short. NAS is a like a combination of a local hard drive and cloud storage, giving you the benefit of both and is stored at your home or office. A NAS device includes a processor, memory and space for hard drive storage, that is connected to a local network, or your home router. Not to confuse you, but there is also another type of “private cloud”, which is Direct Attached Storage (DAS). A DAS device simply connects to one device (PC or laptop) and is not shared with multiple devices like a NAS. So, back to NAS since we’re focusing on cloud solutions.
The great thing about a NAS device is that you can create a centralized media library that can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection. You can also share photos with others outside of your home. It gives you the security of physically owning the drive on which your data is stored, while also having the convenience of being able to access that data from anywhere. The diagram to the right illustrates conceptually a “private cloud” configuration.
The possible downside to having a NAS though, is the initial cost and setup. However, and we’ll discuss more on this; if you start collecting close to or over 1 Terabyte in data; or worry about your photos or documents being stored in the “public cloud”, then a NAS device might just be for you.
Why use “the Cloud”?
The benefit of utilizing any type of cloud service, whether public or private, is the potential for you to access your photos or documents from any location or device; provided you have an Internet connection. In addition, you have the piece of mind that your data is being backed-up. In summary, It’s an efficient and convenient way of being able to access all your files on any of your computing devices.
Now that you have a better understanding of “the cloud”, let’s discuss a couple of differences and similarities between public and private cloud storage.
Privacy and security are a constant concern with news of data breaches and reports of government surveillance. Do you want your photos or files managed by another company? If you do go with a “public cloud” service, please check the terms and privacy notifications. I would be more concerned with what is in their terms than the risk of the company having a data breach. Also, check this out! https://tosdr.org/ includes a summary of terms from some of the more popular websites.
With a “private cloud” or NAS, you have control of security. When looking into NAS devices, be sure to check into the complexity of configuring the security. Simple things like changing the default admin password or being able to install your anti-virus software on the system. Also, can you add users and set the type of access they have?
Another difference between public and private cloud storage is the price structure. With “public cloud” storage you pay a subscription fee based on the amount of storage needed. With “private cloud” storage though, you pay upfront for the device and hard drive. No subscription fee involved. The capacity for a home storage device usually starts in the 2TB to 8TB range. The image to the right gives you an idea how much 1 terabyte (TB) holds.
Lets use an example. A 2TB Western Digital My Cloud device costs around $140. Although, there are plenty of other NAS options which cost more; but depends on what your needs are. No one device fits everyone. Now compared to cloud services: Dropbox charges $99 per year for 1TB. Google Drive is $9.99 per month. Amazon charges around $60 after 3-month trial period. If you’re using large amounts of storage, the “public cloud” can get expensive quickly.
There is one exception that I’m aware of regarding cloud pricing. And that is with a cloud provider, Forever.com. They are a “public cloud”, however it’s totally different than any other “public cloud” service. You can rent space on their services, or, you can buy storage for life. They have a totally different concept and will discuss that in another article. But, until then. If you’re interested in learning more about Forever.com, please contact me directly.
Choosing a Solution
There are plenty of other points to discuss with regards to public and private cloud storage. But in summary, if you’re a light user, working with small text files, or JPEG images, then you might find the convenience of the cloud is perfect or you. The moment you move to larger files — your RAW image library, or your whole movie collection — then the price and performance benefits of NAS become clearer. If you’re not comfortable with either cloud solution, there is still the External Hard Drive; which is a great device.
Looking for more information about cloud options? Please feel free to contact me. Next up, I’ll dive more into comparing popular cloud options, both public and private.