Recently, Kelly Clay wrote an incredible article here on LockerGnome about how to cope with failure in the cloud. After reading this, I began thinking of all the different ways that these cloud-based services have failed in the past, and what could theoretically generate failure in the years ahead. I began considering the different problems I’d experience working and doing my day-to-day tasks, should the cloud services I use break down. Here are five reasons not to trust the cloud:
Companies Come and Go
Tech companies spring up and disappear all the time. Sometimes they’re bought, sometimes their VCs pull the plug, and sometimes they just go out of business after a loss of interest in the market. Either way, the data you have stored on their servers won’t exist there forever. For the same reason many MMORPG players gauge the longevity of a particular game before dedicating their precious time to building up their character, a clever cloud user will try to do the same. Unfortunately, not every company is built to last, so any cloud service you’re relying on should always be considered a temporary solution, no matter how good the company looks. If you don’t think it could happen to you, just ask one of many former users of the Lala music service.
Security is Never 100% Guaranteed
Right now, just about any cloud service is subject to attack by Anonymous or one of any number of organizations that want access to the data held in its data center. Your name, password, credit card information, personal files, and other precious data are only as secure as the systems that have access to them. Trusting the security of your most private data to the cloud is a risk, like any other storage solution that someone can gain access to. A good rule of thumb for cloud storage services would be that if you have a file or folder you absolutely need to store in the cloud, but don’t want to have it seized by cyber vandals, encrypt it prior to upload.
Cloud Services Aren’t Immune to Hardware Failure
It’s happened before, and it will likely happen again. Data kept in the cloud becomes suddenly lost after a hardware failure at the data center. A cluster of servers goes down for one of several reasons, and a backup of the data isn’t available. While the chances are pretty slim, major data losses have occurred in the past.
In addition to typical data losses due to failures of hard drives at the data center, natural disasters and major power outages can also knock cloud services out of order for a significant period of time. BlackBerry users have lost their connectivity on multiple occasions, and virtually every major cloud service has suffered moments of downtime at one point or another.
Local Connectivity is Required
What do you do if the Internet connection in your home fails, and you’re running up against a deadline you have to meet? You can’t very well work on the project locally with the source files locked away in the cloud. At best, you can rush to your nearest coffee shop and pray its connection is strong enough to facilitate the bandwidth needed to finish the job.
Bandwidth Caps Imposed by Internet Service Providers
Dealing with a strict bandwidth cap can cause cloud services to put you at risk of extremely high fees from your provider, or even the loss of your service. For customers stuck in an area dominated by a single ISP, using cloud storage solutions extensively may result in an inability to use a reliable Internet connection entirely. Before you invest time and money in keeping your data stored in the cloud, it’s probably a good idea to check your service provider’s terms and conditions in addition to any alternative providers that you can switch to if they change. 250 GB may sound like a lot of monthly throughput, but when you’re dealing with cloud storage and everyday video streaming, emailing, chatting, and gaming, you’ll be surprised how quickly it disappears.