Online Storage vs. Portable Hard-drive: Pros and Cons

We now live in a world where both individuals and business users store and transfer a huge amount of digital data. Various storage and data sharing mediums have been put in place over the years, with portable hard drives being one of the most common ways to easily store and transport data. But online storage services are rapidly gaining in popularity. This is mainly due to the rapid proliferation of broadband Internet access and the fact that we can now access the Internet on a multitude of devices, not just a standard desktop or laptop PC.

Which option is better: using an online storage service or getting a portable hard drive? Both have some pros and cons.

Portable Hard Drive Pros

Affordable cost. You only need to pay once for the device and can use it as often as you want without paying for a monthly subscription.

Can work offline. Internet access is not required to retrieve data. This makes it useful if you need to bring data to a remote location where Internet access is either unavailable or connections are very slow.

You retain possession of your data at all times. Your data isn't sent to some distant server, but rather, it is with you all the time. This may be important to some business users that need to store confidential data.

Portable Hard Drive Cons

Prone to damage, failure or theft. As a piece of hardware, a portable drive can fail, be damaged by accident or get stolen. This exposes you to potential risks such as data loss or unauthorized access to the information on the drive.

Not scalable. Drives have a fixed size. If you need more storage space, the only solution is to buy a bigger drive to replace the current one.

May have compatibility issues. Not all devices that you would want to access your data on support external hard drives. This is the case with most smartphones and tablets. If you need to access your data on mobile devices, using an external hard drive can be quite inconvenient.

Online Storage Pros

Fully scalable. Most companies allow you change your plan if your storage needs change. So if you suddenly need to store much larger quantities of data, a bigger online drive can be obtained in a few seconds.

Data is accessible from anywhere with an Internet connection. You can view or download your information by using almost any Internet enabled device, such as a tablet, netbook, smartphone or Internet-enabled TV.

Nothing to carry around. There's no need to take additional hardware with you, which reduces the chance of your data being lost due to drive failure or theft.

Allows easy sharing and collaboration. Many online storage services allow you to share selected files with other users by simply giving them a secure link.

Online Storage Cons

Requires Internet access to function. If you're in an area where Internet service is spotty, access to your data may be limited. If you're on a slow connection, uploading and downloading large files can sometimes take hours.

Potential data security worries. As data is stored on remote servers, some users may worry about getting their data compromised. Another worry is what happens if the online storage provider goes out of business. However, these concerns can be easily mitigated. This can be done by doing business with an established and reputed provider that has been in business for many years. Also, numerous encryption solutions exist that provide additional security for information that is stored online.


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