RISE OF THE PER­SONAL CLOUD

How de­vices like the WD My Cloud are chang­ing the way you man­age your data from your home.

HWM (Singapore) - - Front Page -

THE CASE FOR CLOUD

On­line stor­age ser­vices or cloud stor­age ser­vices such as Drop­box, Google Drive, iCloud and OneDrive are be­com­ingly in­creas­ing pop­u­lar in re­cent times and this can be at­trib­uted to two key trends.

First and fore­most, we are cre­at­ing more dig­i­tal con­tent than ever. Ac­cord­ing to a study con­ducted by the In­ter­na­tional Data Cor­po­ra­tion, by 2020, mankind would have cre­ated 40 zettabytes worth of con­tent. That is 40,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes or to put it in a more com­pre­hen­si­ble form, 43 tril­lion gi­ga­bytes or 43 bil­lion 1TB por­ta­ble hard disk drives. If you were to line these hard drives up, it would be enough to go around the world 14 times.

If you are skep­ti­cal, just con­sider these sta­tis­tics that were shared by to­day’s key so­cial me­dia ser­vices. Ev­ery day, close to 150,000 hours of video is up­loaded to YouTube, over 55 mil­lion pho­tos are shared on In­sta­gram, over 400 mil­lion Tweets are sent and about 400 mil­lion pho­tos are up­loaded onto Face­book. That is a lot of user-gen­er­ated data.

The sec­ond trend that has con­trib­uted to the rise of cloud stor­age ser­vices is the ex­po­nen­tial growth of mo­bile com­put­ing. Thanks to smart­phones and tablets as well as thin­ner than ever note­books and im­prov­ing data net­work per­for­mance and cov­er­age, user habits and pat­terns have changed. Now, users are ac­cus­tomed to com­put­ing on the go and they de­mand that their data and con­tent be read­ily ac­ces­si­ble at the swipe of the fin­ger.

What bet­ter way to ac­com­plish this than to store your data and con­tent in the cloud - on an on­line server - so that it be eas­ily ac­cessed wher­ever you are as long as you have a work­ing data con­nec­tion. These ser­vices are easy to sign up for and also to setup, mak­ing them ex­tremely con­ve­nient to use. On top of that, they usu­ally also of­fer a small but siz­able amount of stor­age free, which makes them even more en­tic­ing. As for users who re­quire more stor­age, additional stor­age ca­pac­ity can be eas­ily pur­chased for a monthly fee.

The al­ter­na­tive so­lu­tion to this is much less glam­orous, at the least in the past, as it in­volves set­ting up your own net­work-at­tached stor­age sys­tem at home and con­fig­ur­ing it in such a way that it can be ac­cessed re­motely. This was no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult and com­plex to do, and re­quired very ex­pen­sive equip­ment. One would need to ef­fec­tively know how to run and man­age their own server, which fur­ther ex­plains the lure of cloud stor­age ser­vices. How­ever, a new wave of per­sonal cloud stor­age de­vices is try­ing to change that mind­set by promis­ing to be easy to setup and con­fig­ure. Plus, with many users be­com­ing aware about the dan­gers of us­ing on­line ser­vices, per­sonal cloud stor­age are be­ing re­garded as the next big thing in the stor­age in­dus­try.

”EV­ERY DAY, CLOSE TO 150,000 HOURS OF VIDEO IS UP­LOADED TO YOUTUBE, OVER 55 MIL­LION PHO­TOS ARE SHARED ON IN­STA­GRAM, OVER 400 MIL­LION TWEETS ARE SENT AND ABOUT 400 MIL­LION PHO­TOS ARE UP­LOADED ONTO FACE­BOOK.”

SE­CU­RITY IS­SUES & DATA SOVEREIGNTY

While cloud stor­age ser­vices are easy and con­ve­nient to sign up for and use, they do pose a cou­ple of is­sues that are worth con­sid­er­ing. One of the great­est risks in us­ing such ser­vices is se­cu­rity. In the past few years, there have been a cou­ple of sig­nif­i­cant and high pro­file lapses.

In 2011 Sony’s PlayS­ta­tion Net­work was com­pro­mised, which forced Sony to dis­able the ser­vice for 24 days. In the process, it found about 77 mil­lion ac­counts had their in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing pass­words and email ad­dresses, stolen, mak­ing it one of the big­gest data se­cu­rity breaches in re­cent his­tory. Dur­ing Black Fri­day last year, over 40 mil­lion Tar­get cus­tomer ac­counts were hacked, and in Oc­to­ber last year, Adobe was also hacked with around 38 mil­lion ac­counts com­pro­mised. These breaches re­sulted in cus­tomer IDs, data and credit in­for­ma­tion stolen.

Al­though there has yet to be re­ports of cloud stor­age ser­vices be­ing ma­li­ciously hacked or com­pro­mised, that does not mean it can­not hap­pen. The re­cent rev­e­la­tion of the ex­is­tence of the Heart­bleed bug that could be af­fect­ing up to 500,000 web­sites has been a wake up call that web vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties are very real. Heart­bleed is a flaw in the OpenSSL en­cryp­tion soft­ware, and may have gone un­de­tected since De­cem­ber 2011.

The fact is, by us­ing cloud ser­vices, users are hand­ing their data over to some­one else to look af­ter. So while users need not fuss over things such as main­te­nance, backup and se­cu­rity, they also do not have con­trol over where and how their data is man­aged.

This is per­haps summed up best by Steve San­torelli, Man­ager of Out­reach at Team Cymru, an in­ter­net se­cu­rity re­search group, who said, “No busi­ness is ever go­ing to be as ra­bid about look­ing af­ter your data as you would or should be. They are in the busi­ness of mak­ing money from you, af­ter all. Se­cur­ing your data some­times be­comes a mar­ket­ing mantra more than a way of life.”

The threat does not only come from the out­side too, fol­low­ing the whole Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency de­ba­cle, which saw Ed­ward Snow­den leak clas­si­fied documents that de­tailed the ex­tent of global sur­veil­lance pro­grams that are be­ing run by the NSA and other gov­ern­ments, it is clear that se­cu­rity breaches can come from within. But more than that, there is a gen­uine con­cern that what­ever we do on­line is be­ing mon­i­tored by au­thor­i­ties.

Clearly, the thought that se­cu­rity breaches are as likely to come from within as well ex­ter­nally has raised alarm bells and has had some users of cloud stor­age ser­vices wor­ried and think­ing twice about hand­ing their data over to some­one else for safe­keep­ing.

TAK­ING COM­MAND WITH PER­SONAL CLOUD

As a re­sult of these re­cent spate of high pro­file se­cu­rity breaches, many users are now look­ing at al­ter­na­tive so­lu­tions for safe­keep­ing their data but also mak­ing sure that they can be read­ily ac­cessed when­ever and wher­ever.

En­abling this is a new wave of per­sonal cloud stor­age sys­tems such as WD’s My Cloud se­ries of ex­ter­nal hard disk drives. While they might be called per­sonal cloud stor­age sys­tems, they are re­ally just net­work-at­tached stor­age de­vices. Al­though the thought of set­ting up your own cloud might seem daunt­ing at first, these new

WD’s new per­sonal cloud stor­age de­vices come with ac­com­pa­ny­ing apps that lets you eas­ily ac­cess your data from any­where in the world. The app also fea­tures close in­te­gra­tion with cloud stor­age ser­vice providers such as Drop­box and Google Drive should you still use them for ex­tended stor­age.

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