Ever use a nighttime dropbox

3 tips to be safe from the dangers of cloud computing

Cloud computing is all the rage these days and we have more choices than ever before. How many of us use Dropbox, SkyDrive or Google Drive every day? How many large companies rely on Amazon's CloudFront for content delivery? Google Docs is also a miracle with its cloud-based office suite. However, despite the benefits of cloud computing, it also has disadvantages.

The cloud computing movement suffers from the same problems that all trends suffer from: people participate in the fun without understanding what it is. I know when I first found out about Dropbox I popped my head first "try now, find out later" mentality, but I tell you to do what I say, not like me. Protecting yourself from cloud computing problems will save you a lot of time and headaches in the future.

Tip 1: choose the right cloud

There are many cloud services out there and the number of options will only increase over the next few years. This means that you owe it to yourself to carefully research and consider all available alternatives before deciding on any particular service. For example, if you need a cloud storage solution, you should thoroughly check out Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, Amazon Cloud Drive, etc. The Cloud Storage Showdown - Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive and More The Cloud Storage Showdown - Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive & More The cloud storage scene has been heating up recently, with a long-awaited entry from Google and a revamped SkyDrive from Microsoft . Dropbox was left unchallenged by the big players for a long time, but that has changed

Due to the nature of cloud computing, data migration between clouds can be a tremendous loss of time and a sore throat. First you need to download everything from the first cloud and then upload it to the second. Even if there is an import option, you will lose a lot of time depending on how much data needs to be moved. Research hard and make sure you start with the cloud that best suits your needs.

Also pay attention to compatibilities. Some clouds do not connect well to certain software, be it because the developers haven't implemented enough support or the cloud itself relies on conflicting software. Make sure you know about these restrictions. Otherwise, you might be using certain tools that you don't like.

Tip 2: keep multiple copies of your data

One of the biggest risks with using a cloud is that the longevity of the cloud is completely beyond your control. It could be there one morning and gone the next. Therefore, NEVER use a cloud as the only storage location for your data.

Yes, cloud storage is considered a revolutionary breakthrough in backup. I disagree here as long as the cloud copy of your data is actually a backup (i.e. not the original copy) because if the cloud goes down, your data will fail in no time. Use other backup solutions. What's the best backup solution? [Geeks Weigh In] What's the Best Backup Solution? [Geeks Weigh In] Ten years ago, an external hard drive - or even a physical CD like a CD-ROM - was the only practical way to back up files. End-user network storage solutions were primitive, expensive, and linked to cloud storage.

Another reason to keep local copies of data: temporary cloud outages. What if you have three hours to work on your project, sit down, log into your cloud ... and it's down? All of a sudden, you're waiting impatiently for the cloud to reappear so you can make good use of your time. With local copies, you are never at the mercy of your cloud's uptime.

Tip 3: back up your data

There are many advantages to cloud computing, the main one being that all data management is done by the cloud provider. It relieves you, the user, of worrying about overhead and administration. However, this comes with the potential for loss of security and privacy.

Since all of your data is stored by someone else, cloud services are inherently risky. We've already discussed the possibility of losing all of your data if a cloud provider is on their feet overnight, but there's also the issue of data confidentiality. What happens if the cloud provider is hacked? What if your data - this is actually your data - is leaked by a rogue employee? What if they give up your information in the face of a government subpoena?

The point is: Don't put data in a cloud if you didn't understand that that data would be available at some point in the future. You just can't know in advance that your data will be kept secret forever. Encryption for the cloud 5 ways to securely encrypt your files in the cloud 5 ways to securely encrypt your files in the cloud Your files may be encrypted in transit and on the cloud provider's servers. However, the cloud storage company can decrypt them - and anyone else that will give you access to your account to view the files. Client-side ... Read More

Conclusion

One final tip for you: don't use cloud computing just because it is there. What do you think of someone who ate their cereal with a hammer? Similarly, cloud computing is a tool and performs a number of functions. If you can take advantage of these features, go for it! However, don't use a cloud service if you don't know why you're using it.

What do you say reader What other dangers of cloud computing can you imagine? Have you ever been burned by a cloud Share your experience with us in the comments!

Photo credits: Clouds via Shutterstock, files and folders via Shutterstock, Secure Cloud via Shutterstock

Learn more about: cloud computing, cloud storage, online security.