Cloud Storage vs External Hard Drive

You may be asking why you need a cloud storage solution and what is wrong with a simple external hard drive? Let’s face it with an external hard drive you can see it, you have access to it, it never leaves your side and it makes you feel secure. That’s great but they are not the smallest pieces of equipment and it can be a real pain to set it up every time you want to use it and how much space will it actually give you?

Data storage should give you flexibility for more space when needed

With a cloud storage solution, you have so much more flexibility. An external hard drive may have 1TB of space – this may seem like ample storage space but what happens when you run out? You either have to go out and buy another external hard drive to replace that one or to have in addition. Either method is going to take up lots of time. At least with a cloud storage solution, you will be able to upgrade your plan as and when it’s needed.

How much time does cloud storage save?

The real difference between the two though comes down to accessibility. If you want all of your data on multiple devices getting it from the original source to the external hard drive and then transferring it to a mobile, iPad, laptop or another device can be a real bind. You will need to be switching cables and transferring files back and forth every time you make a change. It’s not so easy to overwrite files either. You could end up with multiple versions of the same thing on the external hard drive. If you want to save time surely a cloud storage solution is more effective?

What can the cloud do that a hard drive can’t?

Well, we have already mentioned how difficult it is to transfer lots of data between multiple devices. An external hard drive is great for backing up data but when you want to access and work on these files you have to keep re-saving the information manually. With the cloud, everything is accessible from anywhere without the need for manual intervention. You can be working on a document in the morning from your computer and re-access it from your mobile in the evening.

Ideal for remote working.

If you work on the move and can work from anywhere in the world you don’t want to be lugging around a heavy hard drive. With the cloud, everything is accessible from anywhere at any time. You can go on holiday and access everything from your mobile or laptop. Another consideration is that you don’t need electricity to operate the cloud but you do need it to operate an external hard drive unless you are using a USB device and then it must be assumed that the storage it provides isn’t going to be great.

What about security?

This is a concern for many and whilst an external hard drive guarantees security in terms of you having control you can’t prevent things like theft or fire or other damage. Whilst these events are unlikely they are still possible. Having your data stored in the cloud means that it will be stored on more than on server so if something did go wrong your backup is backed up. Most cloud storage providers now have military style data encryption the same security that is used by banks and financial institutions.


How to they compare when it comes to cost? A good external hard drive isn’t cheap and it could cost around the same as an online data provider would charge for 1 or even 2 years. You have to consider the shelf life of your external hard drive though and what will happen with technological advancements in the next couple of years. The way we do things then will be even more advanced than they are now so you could find yourself paying for something that you won’t be using in a year’s time. How long will a hard drive provide what you need? If you are considering the two options the likelihood is that you are making these considerations for your own personal requirements and the leading cloud storage providers provide a free storage solution with anyway so you could actually be saving money by using an online cloud solution. You will certainly be saving time and making life easier for yourself.