Why the cloud isn’t immune to data loss

For some, the cloud is almost mystical; like the data contained there is somehow metaphysical and is simply pulled out of the air when we retrieve it. The truth is actually much more straightforward.

The data that you store in the cloud is actually still present on some type of storage media just like you have in your own devices. The media that holds your data (which is probably a HDD) will be present in a server in a data centre. The key fact here is that the media used in these data centres is just as vulnerable as the media you use at home or in your office. Yes, some providers will have sophisticated backups in place but this doesn’t mean that you can be certain that data you’ve stored in the cloud is immune to data loss.

Here are just a few examples of how data stored in the cloud can be lost:

Oversights

Remember, data centres rely upon people and people in all walks of life make mistakes; mistakes that lead to data loss being just one example. Just type ‘cloud storage and data loss’ into Google and you’ll soon see that human error has resulted in numerous cloud storage providers losing their customers data.

Security Breaches

The growth of malicious viruses like ransomware has come about because of one simple fact: hackers know that we value our data. Data centres store masses of data and, as the people that use them care enough about it to store it there, it’s hardly surprising that data centres are regularly targeted by hackers.

There are many examples of data centres being hacked. In fact, security is undoubtedly one of the main concerns for data centres worldwide and, whilst this leads to continuous improvements, data stored in the cloud is never completely safe from hackers.

Power and Server Outages

No matter how reliable a server or the infrastructure that powers it may be, power cuts will still happen. Yes, data centres will have backup systems such as generators in place, but these are still fallible. So much so that a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute revealed that the failure of these backup systems is the most common reason for data centres going offline.

Incidentally, the fourth most common reason identified by this study was cooling system failure (hard drives really don't like the heat) – which can also be linked to power outages.

Conclusion

Whilst it’s all too easy to assume that data that is stored on both a personal device and with a cloud provider is protected from data loss, it is worth remembering that all storage media – even that which is used in data centres – can suffer data loss.

Therefore, in order to create a backup system that can truly be described as robust, ensure that your vital data is stored on at least two personal devices and that you scrutinise any provider of cloud storage on their security and backup systems before signing up for their services.

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