Cloud storage vs external hard disk drive : Which one is better?

For years now, the golden rule when it came to getting more storage was to buy an external drive and spend half of your day moving data. This trend has been changing, however, as more and more people have chosen cloud technology. Why? Here are the reasons why cloud storage is better.

  • Universal access
  • Security
  • Sync technology
  • Cost

You’d be lying if you haven’t seen the “Low disk space” warning on your computer, or haven’t has at least one corrupted file.

Having a good backup strategy is important, and everyone should know why. You’d want to make sure that all your photos, music and videos you’ve collected for so long are there for the future. You’d also want to make sure none of your work documents disappears.

You’d also want to have the extra space when you actually need it. How to back up your files, however, is the issue. For years now, the rule of thumb was to go online, order an external hard drive and spend half of your day figuring out how to transfer your data. 

External drives are fast, there’s no doubt. However, even after so many years, they are just not that reliable. Hard drive failure rates, especially on modern devices, are as high as 27 percent during warranty period. This means that a hard drive’s pretty much good for two or three years, and then you kiss it and your data goodbye. 

What about the cloud? Cloud storage maybe not be as fast as external drives but it does take care of a fundamental problem external HDDs can’t fix. Reliability.

1. Universal access

We have files on our phone, on our home laptop and office computers. An external drive can do so much as to back up a computer, only. On the other hand, cloud storage gives you the freedom to back up files on any internet-connected device, without plugging anything.  Most cloud storage services have dedicated apps for most major clients. Access is so much easier, because you basically need a web browser and working internet connection to access all your files.

2. Security

With external drives, you’re in charge of security. However, a lot of people seem to miss this part – while a hard drive warranty will easily replace your HDD, it won’t bring lost files back. 

Security and cloud haven’t always gone together, as well. However, in the recent years, more and more new cloud storage apps have been deploying advanced encryption standards that ensure your data is safe at all times.

European cloud services encrypt user files before they transfer to their servers. By the time files are uploaded, they are already unreadable to anyone, other than the user. 

3. Sync technology

Sync technology is one feature that’s incredibly handy, but rarely discussed. Selective sync allows you to connect your local folders with the cloud. If you’re working on the go, and don’t have Internet connection, sync helps you get the job done.

4. Cost per Quality

Putting aside all other arguments, cost is probably trickiest factor to consider. External drives have relatively linear pricing. The more you pay the more storage you get.

Some external drives also come with additional warranty in case of failure. Unfortunately, the warranty does not include file recovery, which can go as far as $1500, and depending on the nature of the failure – may be ineffective.

Cloud services may seem more expensive, due to their subscription-based pricing model. However, the price includes advanced file recovery options. In this case, you’re paying for storage, recovery and even more options, which make cloud storage cheaper in regards to the quality you get.

In the end, cloud-based solutions are the overall winner for me. Cloud services are becoming cheaper and more accessible every year. They also take care of additional data concerns like file recovery and remote access. With the evolution of the pricing models, including Lifetime options, external hard drives may as well become the next compact discs.

  • Stalina Zoir writes for Pcloud, a Switzerland-based secure cloud storage company.

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