What are the pros and cons of cloud storage?

A cloud icon on a desk in front of a laptop.
(Image credit: iStock)

Cloud storage is pretty ubiquitous these days - in our personal and business lives. Since cloud computing started to enter the mainstream in the early 2000s, it has increasingly come to play a fundamental role in the digital landscape. 

Of course, cloud storage is just one aspect of cloud computing - and we’ve put together a handy guide - cloud computing vs cloud storage - to explain the differences between the two terms. Cloud computing encompasses all manner of different solutions, from SaaS to backup software

Cloud storage specifically refers to customers renting disk space on a server owned by a third-party provider. This is what individuals utilize when they access a file through Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or any of the countless other cloud storage platforms on the market today. 

In fact, the sheer number of cloud storage providers available can be a little overwhelming for individuals and businesses alike. There is free cloud storage, cloud storage management services, and many other similar solutions to choose from. That’s why we’ve put together a round-up of some of the cloud storage platforms on the market today, evaluating them for price, features, support and more so you can determine what is the best cloud storage solution for your needs. 

But just because cloud storage is popular doesn’t necessarily mean it is right for you at all. There are certainly many benefits to cloud storage - hence why it has been adopted so widely - but there are times when good old-fashioned on-premise storage may be a better fit. There are pros and cons of cloud storage - and we’ve outlined them below:

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Pro: Accessibility

One of the main advantages of cloud storage is the accessibility it provides. With the cloud, documents, photos, and any other kind of file can be accessed anywhere, anytime, from any device - so long as you have an internet connection. This provides substantial benefits for collaboration and productivity, especially in the age of hybrid working

Pro: Cost

Previously, with local or on-premise storage, businesses required substantial investment if they wanted to increase their storage needs. They may have had to purchase another server, as well as any associated network technology. Cloud storage operates using an entirely different financial model.

Whereas traditionally, digital solutions have been purchased outright as part of a Cap-Ex cost, cloud storage, as with other cloud solutions, is rented on a subscription Op-Ex basis. This makes it extremely cost-effective to scale a company’s storage up or down simply by contacting its cloud vendor. 

Pro: Scalability

It’s not just in terms of price where cloud storage has an advantage, either. It is impossible to predict your storage needs with 100% accuracy. For businesses, peaks and slumps in demand can come out of nowhere, usually affecting how much storage is needed. With cloud storage, the amount you pay can be scaled up or down instantly. There’s no need to miss out on sales due to a lack of storage and there’s no need to have plenty of storage left underutilized. 

Pro: Disaster recovery

At some point, businesses will suffer a failure of at least one of their critical systems. This could be from a cyberattack, human error, or any number of other risks. When this occurs, the data you have stored on various devices could become inaccessible - or even  permanently lost. But with cloud computing it is likely to be recoverable. 

Cloud storage forms an important part of any disaster recovery plan, with data stored off-site probably in some faraway location. Many cloud storage plans even come with automatic cloud backup built in to streamline the recovery process.

Pro: Support

With cloud storage, you aren’t on your own. Can’t find a file? Struggling with compatibility issues? Need to get in touch with someone to change your payment plan? These issues can all be quickly resolved because cloud storage platforms come with their own support teams to answer your every need. 

Con: A lack of control

With cloud storage, you have to be comfortable relinquishing a certain level of control over your data. You are only renting the storage space - you don’t own it - and so you are letting a third-party gain control over your files - even if some may be of a sensitive nature.

Con: Security

Although the security landscape around cloud computing has improved markedly in recent years, fears continue to abound. Even if these are largely unfounded, high-profile news of cloud storage breaches, like the one recently involving password manager LastPass do little to allay fears. With cloud storage, it is likely that you'll be introducing more vulnerabilities. However, the security credentials of many cloud storage platforms are extremely robust.  

Con: Lifetime costs

How can cost be both a strength and a weakness of cloud storage? Due to its payment model. As cloud storage is billed on a subscription basis, it means the upfront cost of signing up for a cloud storage platform is likely to be very low. However, those subscription payments can add up over time - it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.

Over a prolonged period, cloud storage costs can accumulate, so read the fine details of any contract before signing on the dotted line. Plus, look at how much it will cost you to expand your storage or access additional features. Sometimes the basic package is cheap, but the more advanced ones are not.

Con: Compliance challenges

Cloud storage can involve data being stored in a different country (or even continent), where different data protection and compliance rules may apply. For example, it is essential that GDPR rules are complied with by any organization operating in the European Union. This is unlikely to be an issue for businesses that rely purely on local storage - but could be when employing cloud storage services. Failure to achieve compliance may not only lead to reputational damage either - it could lead to hefty fines!

Conclusion: To cloud or not to cloud?

It is unlikely that businesses will want to forego the many benefits of cloud storage completely. It has revolutionized the world of work, making it more convenient, collaborative and cheaper. But there may be occasions - for security, compliance, or other reasons - where you still want to employ on-premise storage. Just because you use cloud storage, doesn’t mean all of your data has to be stored in the cloud.

Cloud storage is pretty ubiquitous these days - in our personal and business lives. Since cloud computing started to enter the mainstream in the early 2000s, it has increasingly come to play a fundamental role in the digital landscape. 

Of course, cloud storage is just one aspect of cloud computing - and we’ve put together a handy guide - cloud computing vs cloud storage - to explain the differences between the two terms. Cloud computing encompasses all manner of different solutions, from SaaS to backup software

Cloud storage specifically refers to customers renting disk space on a server owned by a third-party provider. This is what individuals utilize when they access a file through Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or any of the countless other cloud storage platforms on the market today. 

In fact, the sheer number of cloud storage providers available can be a little overwhelming for individuals and businesses alike. There is free cloud storage, cloud storage management services, and many other similar solutions to choose from. That’s why we’ve put together a round-up of some of the cloud storage platforms on the market today, evaluating them for price, features, support and more so you can determine what is the best cloud storage solution for your needs. 

But just because cloud storage is popular doesn’t necessarily mean it is right for you at all. There are certainly many benefits to cloud storage - hence why it has been adopted so widely - but there are times when good old-fashioned on-premise storage may be a better fit. There are pros and cons of cloud storage - and we’ve outlined them below:

Pro: Accessibility

One of the main advantages of cloud storage is the accessibility it provides. With the cloud, documents, photos, and any other kind of file can be accessed anywhere, anytime, from any device - so long as you have an internet connection. This provides substantial benefits for collaboration and productivity, especially in the age of hybrid working

Pro: Cost

Previously, with local or on-premise storage, businesses required substantial investment if they wanted to increase their storage needs. They may have had to purchase another server, as well as any associated network technology. Cloud storage operates using an entirely different financial model.

Whereas traditionally, digital solutions have been purchased outright as part of a Cap-Ex cost, cloud storage, as with other cloud solutions, is rented on a subscription Op-Ex basis. This makes it extremely cost-effective to scale a company’s storage up or down simply by contacting its cloud vendor. 

Pro: Scalability

It’s not just in terms of price where cloud storage has an advantage, either. It is impossible to predict your storage needs with 100% accuracy. For businesses, peaks and slumps in demand can come out of nowhere, usually affecting how much storage is needed. With cloud storage, the amount you pay can be scaled up or down instantly. There’s no need to miss out on sales due to a lack of storage and there’s no need to have plenty of storage left underutilized. 

Pro: Disaster recovery

At some point, businesses will suffer a failure of at least one of their critical systems. This could be from a cyberattack, human error, or any number of other risks. When this occurs, the data you have stored on various devices could become inaccessible - or even  permanently lost. But with cloud computing it is likely to be recoverable. 

Cloud storage forms an important part of any disaster recovery plan, with data stored off-site probably in some faraway location. Many cloud storage plans even come with automatic cloud backup built in to streamline the recovery process.

Pro: Support

With cloud storage, you aren’t on your own. Can’t find a file? Struggling with compatibility issues? Need to get in touch with someone to change your payment plan? These issues can all be quickly resolved because cloud storage platforms come with their own support teams to answer your every need. 

Con: A lack of control

With cloud storage, you have to be comfortable relinquishing a certain level of control over your data. You are only renting the storage space - you don’t own it - and so you are letting a third-party gain control over your files - even if some may be of a sensitive nature.

Con: Security

Although the security landscape around cloud computing has improved markedly in recent years, fears continue to abound. Even if these are largely unfounded, high-profile news of cloud storage breaches, like the one recently involving password manager LastPass do little to allay fears. With cloud storage, it is likely that you'll be introducing more vulnerabilities. However, the security credentials of many cloud storage platforms are extremely robust.  

Con: Lifetime costs

How can cost be both a strength and a weakness of cloud storage? Due to its payment model. As cloud storage is billed on a subscription basis, it means the upfront cost of signing up for a cloud storage platform is likely to be very low. However, those subscription payments can add up over time - it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.

Over a prolonged period, cloud storage costs can accumulate, so read the fine details of any contract before signing on the dotted line. Plus, look at how much it will cost you to expand your storage or access additional features. Sometimes the basic package is cheap, but the more advanced ones are not.

Con: Compliance challenges

Cloud storage can involve data being stored in a different country (or even continent), where different data protection and compliance rules may apply. For example, it is essential that GDPR rules are complied with by any organization operating in the European Union. This is unlikely to be an issue for businesses that rely purely on local storage - but could be when employing cloud storage services. Failure to achieve compliance may not only lead to reputational damage either - it could lead to hefty fines!

Conclusion: To cloud or not to cloud?

It is unlikely that businesses will want to forego the many benefits of cloud storage completely. It has revolutionized the world of work, making it more convenient, collaborative and cheaper. But there may be occasions - for security, compliance, or other reasons - where you still want to employ on-premise storage. Just because you use cloud storage, doesn’t mean all of your data has to be stored in the cloud.

Cloud storage is pretty ubiquitous these days - in our personal and business lives. Since cloud computing started to enter the mainstream in the early 2000s, it has increasingly come to play a fundamental role in the digital landscape. 

Of course, cloud storage is just one aspect of cloud computing - and we’ve put together a handy guide - cloud computing vs cloud storage - to explain the differences between the two terms. Cloud computing encompasses all manner of different solutions, from SaaS to backup software

Cloud storage specifically refers to customers renting disk space on a server owned by a third-party provider. This is what individuals utilize when they access a file through Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or any of the countless other cloud storage platforms on the market today. 

In fact, the sheer number of cloud storage providers available can be a little overwhelming for individuals and businesses alike. There is free cloud storage, cloud storage management services, and many other similar solutions to choose from. That’s why we’ve put together a round-up of some of the cloud storage platforms on the market today, evaluating them for price, features, support and more so you can determine what is the best cloud storage solution for your needs. 

But just because cloud storage is popular doesn’t necessarily mean it is right for you at all. There are certainly many benefits to cloud storage - hence why it has been adopted so widely - but there are times when good old-fashioned on-premise storage may be a better fit. There are pros and cons of cloud storage - and we’ve outlined them below:

Pro: Accessibility

One of the main advantages of cloud storage is the accessibility it provides. With the cloud, documents, photos, and any other kind of file can be accessed anywhere, anytime, from any device - so long as you have an internet connection. This provides substantial benefits for collaboration and productivity, especially in the age of hybrid working

Pro: Cost

Previously, with local or on-premise storage, businesses required substantial investment if they wanted to increase their storage needs. They may have had to purchase another server, as well as any associated network technology. Cloud storage operates using an entirely different financial model.

Whereas traditionally, digital solutions have been purchased outright as part of a Cap-Ex cost, cloud storage, as with other cloud solutions, is rented on a subscription Op-Ex basis. This makes it extremely cost-effective to scale a company’s storage up or down simply by contacting its cloud vendor. 

Pro: Scalability

It’s not just in terms of price where cloud storage has an advantage, either. It is impossible to predict your storage needs with 100% accuracy. For businesses, peaks and slumps in demand can come out of nowhere, usually affecting how much storage is needed. With cloud storage, the amount you pay can be scaled up or down instantly. There’s no need to miss out on sales due to a lack of storage and there’s no need to have plenty of storage left underutilized. 

Pro: Disaster recovery

At some point, businesses will suffer a failure of at least one of their critical systems. This could be from a cyberattack, human error, or any number of other risks. When this occurs, the data you have stored on various devices could become inaccessible - or even  permanently lost. But with cloud computing it is likely to be recoverable. 

Cloud storage forms an important part of any disaster recovery plan, with data stored off-site probably in some faraway location. Many cloud storage plans even come with automatic cloud backup built in to streamline the recovery process.

Pro: Support

With cloud storage, you aren’t on your own. Can’t find a file? Struggling with compatibility issues? Need to get in touch with someone to change your payment plan? These issues can all be quickly resolved because cloud storage platforms come with their own support teams to answer your every need. 

Con: A lack of control

With cloud storage, you have to be comfortable relinquishing a certain level of control over your data. You are only renting the storage space - you don’t own it - and so you are letting a third-party gain control over your files - even if some may be of a sensitive nature.

Con: Security

Although the security landscape around cloud computing has improved markedly in recent years, fears continue to abound. Even if these are largely unfounded, high-profile news of cloud storage breaches, like the one recently involving password manager LastPass do little to allay fears. With cloud storage, it is likely that you'll be introducing more vulnerabilities. However, the security credentials of many cloud storage platforms are extremely robust.  

Con: Lifetime costs

How can cost be both a strength and a weakness of cloud storage? Due to its payment model. As cloud storage is billed on a subscription basis, it means the upfront cost of signing up for a cloud storage platform is likely to be very low. However, those subscription payments can add up over time - it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.

Over a prolonged period, cloud storage costs can accumulate, so read the fine details of any contract before signing on the dotted line. Plus, look at how much it will cost you to expand your storage or access additional features. Sometimes the basic package is cheap, but the more advanced ones are not.

Con: Compliance challenges

Cloud storage can involve data being stored in a different country (or even continent), where different data protection and compliance rules may apply. For example, it is essential that GDPR rules are complied with by any organization operating in the European Union. This is unlikely to be an issue for businesses that rely purely on local storage - but could be when employing cloud storage services. Failure to achieve compliance may not only lead to reputational damage either - it could lead to hefty fines!

Conclusion: To cloud or not to cloud?

It is unlikely that businesses will want to forego the many benefits of cloud storage completely. It has revolutionized the world of work, making it more convenient, collaborative and cheaper. But there may be occasions - for security, compliance, or other reasons - where you still want to employ on-premise storage. Just because you use cloud storage, doesn’t mean all of your data has to be stored in the cloud.

Cloud storage is pretty ubiquitous these days - in our personal and business lives. Since cloud computing started to enter the mainstream in the early 2000s, it has increasingly come to play a fundamental role in the digital landscape. 

Of course, cloud storage is just one aspect of cloud computing - and we’ve put together a handy guide - cloud computing vs cloud storage - to explain the differences between the two terms. Cloud computing encompasses all manner of different solutions, from SaaS to backup software

Cloud storage specifically refers to customers renting disk space on a server owned by a third-party provider. This is what individuals utilize when they access a file through Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, or any of the countless other cloud storage platforms on the market today. 

In fact, the sheer number of cloud storage providers available can be a little overwhelming for individuals and businesses alike. There is free cloud storage, cloud storage management services, and many other similar solutions to choose from. That’s why we’ve put together a round-up of some of the cloud storage platforms on the market today, evaluating them for price, features, support and more so you can determine what is the best cloud storage solution for your needs. 

But just because cloud storage is popular doesn’t necessarily mean it is right for you at all. There are certainly many benefits to cloud storage - hence why it has been adopted so widely - but there are times when good old-fashioned on-premise storage may be a better fit. There are pros and cons of cloud storage - and we’ve outlined them below:

Pro: Accessibility

One of the main advantages of cloud storage is the accessibility it provides. With the cloud, documents, photos, and any other kind of file can be accessed anywhere, anytime, from any device - so long as you have an internet connection. This provides substantial benefits for collaboration and productivity, especially in the age of hybrid working

Pro: Cost

Previously, with local or on-premise storage, businesses required substantial investment if they wanted to increase their storage needs. They may have had to purchase another server, as well as any associated network technology. Cloud storage operates using an entirely different financial model.

Whereas traditionally, digital solutions have been purchased outright as part of a Cap-Ex cost, cloud storage, as with other cloud solutions, is rented on a subscription Op-Ex basis. This makes it extremely cost-effective to scale a company’s storage up or down simply by contacting its cloud vendor. 

Pro: Scalability

It’s not just in terms of price where cloud storage has an advantage, either. It is impossible to predict your storage needs with 100% accuracy. For businesses, peaks and slumps in demand can come out of nowhere, usually affecting how much storage is needed. With cloud storage, the amount you pay can be scaled up or down instantly. There’s no need to miss out on sales due to a lack of storage and there’s no need to have plenty of storage left underutilized. 

Pro: Disaster recovery

At some point, businesses will suffer a failure of at least one of their critical systems. This could be from a cyberattack, human error, or any number of other risks. When this occurs, the data you have stored on various devices could become inaccessible - or even  permanently lost. But with cloud computing it is likely to be recoverable. 

Cloud storage forms an important part of any disaster recovery plan, with data stored off-site probably in some faraway location. Many cloud storage plans even come with automatic cloud backup built in to streamline the recovery process.

Pro: Support

With cloud storage, you aren’t on your own. Can’t find a file? Struggling with compatibility issues? Need to get in touch with someone to change your payment plan? These issues can all be quickly resolved because cloud storage platforms come with their own support teams to answer your every need. 

Con: A lack of control

With cloud storage, you have to be comfortable relinquishing a certain level of control over your data. You are only renting the storage space - you don’t own it - and so you are letting a third-party gain control over your files - even if some may be of a sensitive nature.

Con: Security

Although the security landscape around cloud computing has improved markedly in recent years, fears continue to abound. Even if these are largely unfounded, high-profile news of cloud storage breaches, like the one recently involving password manager LastPass do little to allay fears. With cloud storage, it is likely that you'll be introducing more vulnerabilities. However, the security credentials of many cloud storage platforms are extremely robust.  

Con: Lifetime costs

How can cost be both a strength and a weakness of cloud storage? Due to its payment model. As cloud storage is billed on a subscription basis, it means the upfront cost of signing up for a cloud storage platform is likely to be very low. However, those subscription payments can add up over time - it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.

Over a prolonged period, cloud storage costs can accumulate, so read the fine details of any contract before signing on the dotted line. Plus, look at how much it will cost you to expand your storage or access additional features. Sometimes the basic package is cheap, but the more advanced ones are not.

Con: Compliance challenges

Cloud storage can involve data being stored in a different country (or even continent), where different data protection and compliance rules may apply. For example, it is essential that GDPR rules are complied with by any organization operating in the European Union. This is unlikely to be an issue for businesses that rely purely on local storage - but could be when employing cloud storage services. Failure to achieve compliance may not only lead to reputational damage either - it could lead to hefty fines!

Conclusion: To cloud or not to cloud?

It is unlikely that businesses will want to forego the many benefits of cloud storage completely. It has revolutionized the world of work, making it more convenient, collaborative and cheaper. But there may be occasions - for security, compliance, or other reasons - where you still want to employ on-premise storage. Just because you use cloud storage, doesn’t mean all of your data has to be stored in the cloud.

Barclay Ballard

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with ITProPortal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.