Comparing Cloud and Local Storage Formats

For those who need to store their data for a variety of personal or business needs, modern technology has split the data storage world into two broad bins: Local storage and cloud storage. While the latter is much newer than the former, it’s already grown to the point where many individuals and businesses prefer it – and there are also many who combine the two for quality, robust data storage and protection.

At Storage Whale, we’re proud to serve numerous personal and business clients in the realm of data backup and recovery, utilizing cloud storage and cloud-based backup solutions to keep our clients’ data stored, accessible and protected at all times using the latest encryption and other technology. We also want our clients to get the very best storage solutions for their needs, and sometimes this involves combining our services with quality local storage formats as well. How do local and cloud storage differ, what are some pros and cons of each, and how do you choose between them for your storage needs? Here’s a primer.

comparing cloud local storage

Basic Definitions

Here are simple definitions for these two types of storage:

  • Cloud storage: The storage of digital data in an online repository, one backed by multiple servers and locations and typically maintained by a hosting company.
  • Local storage: The storage of digital data on physical devices like hard drives, solid state drives or external storage devices such as discs or thumb drives.

Local storage has been around for much longer than cloud storage, which has only become a viable format in the last decade or so. However, cloud storage offers some major benefits in several areas, and has become the preferred storage format for many individuals and businesses. We’ll dig into why in just a bit.

Distributed Cloud

Before we go any further, we wanted to inform you of a modern element of cloud storage that’s becoming much more popular recently, one known as the distributed cloud. This refers to when cloud services are distributed to various different physical locations, helping reduce data costs and low-latency issues for businesses storing large amounts of data. In addition, the distributed cloud network allows many groups meet local laws or regulations restricting data storage within a locale.

While distributed cloud, or DC, is still growing and becoming a bigger part of the storage world, expectations are high here. It is designed to eventually grow into a like-for-like hybrid that allows customers to avoid latency issues, plus allow for opening of cloud substations by entities like governments, utilities, universities and others.

Pros and Cons of Cloud Storage

Here are some of the general benefits of cloud storage:

  • Versatile data recovery: Unlike local storage, which requires actual possession of the local storage format to access files when needed, cloud storage can be accessed from anywhere. Data that requires retrieval can be pulled anytime you have basic internet access, all with secure storage throughout. This is ideal for individuals or businesses who are regularly out and about, and for work-from-home situations as well.
  • Disaster recovery: Cloud providers can easily interface with disaster recovery pros for a comprehensive strategy.
  • General teamwork: For similar interfacing reasons, teams are able to work together extremely well through accessing the same tools and data using the cloud.
  • Energy efficiency: Energy consumption for cloud storage is far lower than local storage, often saving businesses up to 70% in energy consumption and related costs.
  • Pay-as-you-use: Instead of purchasing a huge amount of storage and only using some of it, cloud storage allows you to pay for what you use.
  • Better tools: In addition to simple storage, cloud services also come with features like web applications, team collaboration tools, data protection, security protocols and much more.

Now, there are a couple potential challenges of cloud storage:

  • Security: While this was a much larger concern a few years ago when encryption and security were not so robust, IT teams do have to take care to have full security coverage for their data. However, when you work with quality pros like the team at Storage Whale, comprehensive security is simply part of the package.
  • Hosting: Working with a cloud provider does mean you’re relying on them for security and for their network availability – which, again, is why working with high-quality cloud storage pros who never have outages or tech issues is so important.

Pros and Cons of Local Storage

Here are some of the known benefits of local storage:

  • Speed: If you have your local storage drives on-hand, retrieving data from them can be slightly faster than uploading and downloading from the cloud. However, cloud speeds have increased significantly in recent years and have cut this gap.
  • Security: If you’re concerned about simply having your data on any kind of online storage format, local storage removes this theme and gives you full control over the data – though there are costs here, as we’ll dive into.

There are also some significant downsides of local storage:

  • Access: As we noted above, you must have your local storage drives with you to access them – if you’re out and about, out of town or away from your data in any other physical way, you can’t retrieve it.
  • Backups and disaster: In case of any kind of disaster on your property, local backups are at-risk of being destroyed – cloud backups are not.
  • Cost: Hardware and related costs for local storage are far higher than for cloud storage, especially for businesses that require large-scale data storage.

Making Your Choice

The choice between these two, or to use both together, comes down to your personal or business needs. Businesses tend to gravitate toward cloud storage due to its lower cost and simplicity of deployment, though some are utilizing hybrid strategies that also involve some level of local backup as an additional layer of security. For personal needs, the cloud also holds many advantages – but again, combining them can also work well.

For more on combining cloud and local storage effectively, or to learn about any of our cloud storage services, speak to the staff at Storage Whale today.