The Data Management Debate: Local vs. Cloud Storage

The Data Management Debate: Local vs. Cloud Storage

June 3

In the past, it was simple. There was no such thing as network sharing and no such thing as cloud computing. Local storage was the only option. However, as technology continued to advance, IT admins quickly embraced the power of the web. Cloud services such as Dropbox have revolutionized how businesses store information. By saving important files on a non-localized server, employees can access their data from anywhere in the world, as long as they have an internet connection. Unfortunately, unforeseen consequences always follow change – and in this particular instance, data security is the main sacrifice. As a result, corporations must carefully evaluate their options and ask themselves this question, “Which data management method is best – cloud computing, local storage, or network sharing?”

Local Storage

Storing data on a local disk is often the easiest and most straightforward option. As today’s desktops can store up to 500 GB of files, capacity is a non-issue. In fact, even the most rudimentary laptops are fitted with disks of the 160 GB variety. With so much extra space, it is often forgotten that other alternatives exist.

So why even consider other options? The main allure of a shared network is that important information is protected against physical theft of the device. Luckily, both Windows and Macintosh operating systems feature basic security measures that often breed confidence into concerned IT managers. For example, password protection is a desktop standard and fingerprint validation technology is quickly gaining in popularity. Unfortunately, these safeguards can only do so much, and local storage still contains a number of risks.

The biggest problem with local storage is that a computer virus can easily cripple a hard drive and all of the data that it contains. In fact, a Google study has shown that 8.6 percent of three year-old drives fail. A secondary concern is the theft of an employee’s laptop; a risk that is exacerbated when business travel is involved.

Cloud Storage

With the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend as strong as ever, businesses are scrambling to gain control of employee-owned smartphones, laptops, and tablets. IT admins recognize the potential of mobile devices and understand that they can increase productivity if used correctly.

This is where Cloud computing comes in. By hosting data on an online server, employees can access their information from any number of devices. Nevertheless, the ability to access and share files with such ease can be seen as both an advantage and a disadvantage. Foremost, the Cloud has allowed collaborate document writing to become extremely popular. Individuals that are vast distances apart can now work together on a single project; they no longer have to rely on inefficient email communication.

On the other hand, IT departments lose any and all control over online content. Corporations must realize that Cloud services are not immune to data loss; they too are being targeted by skilled hackers. Another drawback is the use of the mobile devices themselves. Even though desktops and laptops are often fitted with password protection and antivirus software, the same cannot be said for smartphones.

Network Sharing

A centralized network can be considered the happy medium between Cloud and local storage. Similar to a localized drive, this method allows a business to physically backup their data and keep information separate from the internet. In essence, a network share involves a specialized storage computer that is connected to multiple devices.

The big allure of network sharing is that it limits the number of devices that IT has to manage. Rather than running backup software on everyone’s desktop, they can focus their efforts on a single platform.


With so many options available, it is difficult to pinpoint the perfect data management solution. The best way to do so is to evaluate each company’s needs. If collaboration and file sharing is of utmost importance, then a Cloud service is recommended. If data security is paramount, then a centralized network is probably the best option. Finally, a small business with a low budget is advised to stick with a localized storage system.