Ask the Readers: Backing Your Files Up – Local Storage versus the Cloud

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By Akemi Iwaya on December 29th, 2010

Backing up important files is something that all of us should do on a regular basis, but may not have given as much thought to as we should. This week we would like to know if you use local storage, cloud storage, or a combination of both to back your files up.

server-room

Photo by camknows.

For some people local storage media may be the most convenient and/or affordable way to back up their files. Having those files stored on media under your control can also provide a sense of security and peace of mind. But storing your files locally may also have drawbacks if something happens to your storage media. So how do you know whether the benefits outweigh the disadvantages or not? Here are some possible pros and cons that may affect your decision to use local storage to back up your files:

Local Storage

Pros

  • You are in control of your data
  • Your files are portable and can go with you when needed if using external or flash drives
  • Files are accessible without an internet connection
  • You can easily add more storage capacity as needed (additional drives, etc.)

Cons

  • You need to arrange room for your storage media (if you have multiple externals drives, etc.)
  • Possible hardware failure
  • No access to your files if you forget to bring your storage media with you or it is too bulky to bring along
  • Theft and/or loss of home with all contents due to circumstances like fire

If you are someone who is always on the go and needs to travel as lightly as possible, cloud storage may be the perfect way for you to back up and access your files. Perhaps your laptop has a hard-drive failure or gets stolen…unhappy events to be sure, but you will still have a copy of your files available. Perhaps a company wants to make sure their records, files, and other information are backed up off site in case of a major hardware or system failure…expensive and/or frustrating to fix if it happens, but once again there is a nice backup ready to go once things are fixed. As with local storage, here are some possible pros and cons that may influence your choice of cloud storage to back up your files:

Cloud Storage

Pros

  • No need to carry around flash or bulky external drives
  • All of your files are accessible wherever there is an internet connection
  • No need to deal with local storage media (or its’ upkeep)
  • Your files are still safe if your home is broken into or other unfortunate circumstances occur

Cons

  • Your files and data are not 100% under your control
  • Possible hardware failure or loss of files on the part of your cloud storage provider (this could include a disgruntled employee wreaking havoc)
  • No access to your files if you do not have an internet connection
  • The cloud storage provider may eventually shutdown due to financial hardship or other unforeseen circumstances
  • The possibility of your files and data being stolen by hackers due to a security breach on the part of your cloud storage provider

You may also prefer to try and cover all of the possibilities by using both local and cloud storage to back up your files. If something happens to one, you always have the other to fall back on. Need access to those files at or away from home? As long as you have access to either your storage media or an internet connection, you are good to go.

Maybe you are getting ready to choose a backup solution but are not sure which one would work better for you. Here is your chance to ask your fellow HTG readers which one they would recommend. Got a great backup solution already in place? Then be sure to share it with your fellow readers!

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Akemi Iwaya is a devoted Mozilla Firefox user who enjoys working with multiple browsers and occasionally dabbling with Linux. She also loves reading fantasy and sci-fi stories as well as playing "old school" role-playing games. You can visit her on Twitter and .

  • Published 12/29/10
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