A while back, I wrote about the problem of consumer trust in the cloud – in particular, the problem of what happens when your cloud provider decides to change the T&Cs to your detriment, and how this can erode the trust that consumers, already alert to the technology industry’s much-publicised failures, are in danger of losing.
The issue that prompted this was the massive capacity reduction by Amazon for its cloud storage service – Cloud Drive – from unlimited to a maximum of 5GB. The original price was just £55 a year but Amazon’s new price for 15TB, for example, is £1,500.
So at this point, unless you’re happy to pay that amount, two solutions suggest themselves. The first is to invest in a pile of very large hard disks – twice as many as you need because, you know, backups, and then become your own storage manager. Some excellent NAS devices and software packages such as FreeNAS make this process much easier than it used to be, but you’ll still need to manage the systems and/or buy the supporting hardware, and pay the power bill.
The alternative is to retain some trust in the cloud – while remaining wary. But this is only half the solution; I’ll get back to that later.
This individual has found another cloud provider, Google G Suite, which offers unlimited storage and a whole heap of business services for a reasonable £6 per month. Google requires you to own your domain and to be hosting your own website but if you can satisfy those requirements, you’re in. Other cloud providers have deals too but this was the best deal I could find.
So the problem then is how to transfer a large volume of data to the new cloud service. One way is to re-upload it but this is very long-winded: using a 20Mbps fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) connection it will take months, it can clog up your connection if you have other uses for that bandwidth, and for anyone on a metered broadband connection it will be expensive too. And if you don’t run a dedicated server, you’ll need a machine left on during this time.
Cloud-to-cloud transfer services exist to solve this problem, – and after some research, I found cloudHQ. For a reasonable fee – or for free if you blog about it (yes, this what I’m doing here) – cloudHQ will transfer data between a range of cloud services, including Google, Amazon (S3 and Cloud Drive), Gmail, Box, Basecamp, Office 365, Evernote and many more.
CloudHQ does more: it will backup and sync in real time too, forward emails, save them as PDFs, act as a repository for large attachments, and a range of other email- and scheduling related services for Google and other cloud providers.
The basic service is free but this is limited to 20GB and a maximum file size of 150MB – but the next tier up – Premium – costs £19.80 a month and offers pretty much everything the power user could want.
Hybrid clouds and backup
So is cloudHQ the solution to the problem of cloud-to-cloud transfers? Yes, but putting your data in the cloud still leaves you with a single copy without a backup (I said I’d get back to this). So either you need another cloud service, in which case cloudHQ will keep them in sync, or you create a hybrid solution, where the primary data lives under your direct control and management, but the off-site backup lives in the cloud.
This hybrid setup is the one that businesses are increasingly opting for, and for good reason. And frankly, since your irreplaceable personal data – think photos and the like – is at risk unless you keep at least two copies, preferably three, then using both local and cloud storage make huge sense.