person on laptop and phone with cloud storage icons
While data that is stored in the cloud can be breached or lost, it doesn't necessarily mean that the cloud itself was at fault. — Getty Images/jamesteohart

Cloud storage continues to grow in popularity. In fact, by 2020, 83% of enterprise workloads will be hosted in the cloud. But data security is also becoming a big concern and many people wonder how safe data storage really is.

Data centers vs. cloud storage

First, it’s important to understand what cloud storage is and how it differs from using a data center. The main difference is that a data center provides on-site hardware while cloud storage is located in an off-site location.

Cloud vendors use the internet to transfer the data to your device so cloud storage is available everywhere. There are pros and cons to using either option.

Maintaining an on-site data storage center is more expensive but it will give you more control over your data. You won’t have to depend on an outside provider for data security or performance. You have easy, on-site access to your data and can maintain higher compliance standards.

On the other hand, cloud storage is a great option for startups and small businesses with limited budgets. It gives you an instant way to store your data with a very low upfront investment. And some companies find that cloud storage makes it easier to recover lost data.

Cloud storage also tends to be more flexible than data centers. If your business needs to expand its storage capacity rapidly, this is much easier to do using the cloud. Additionally, your provider will take care of any software updates for you.

However, you don’t have to choose between the two. Some businesses find that a hybrid solution is the best option for them. You can store more sensitive data in a data center while storing less confidential information in the cloud.

[Read: Small Business Guide to Cloud Backup and Storage]

It’s important to note, however, that in the case of most data breaches, the cloud itself isn’t hacked.

Is cloud storage safe?

All data stored in the cloud is encrypted so hackers can’t easily access this information — which makes signs point to yes. But recent high-profile data breaches have caused many people to doubt the safety of cloud storage.

It’s important to note, however, that in the case of most data breaches, the cloud itself isn’t hacked. Usually, the culprit is vulnerabilities in the password security system or human error.

For instance, 47% of business owners said a recent data breach was the result of an employee accidentally losing a company device or document.

This means the best ways you can protect your data are by educating and training your employees on data safety. Simply using secure passwords and enabling multi-factor authentication can go a long way toward protecting your data.

Can cloud storage data be lost?

Yes, the potential for data loss does exist. Again, human error is the most common cause of data loss. This usually happens when a user accidentally deletes their data or the data is accidentally overwritten by another user or application.

However, there are ways to protect yourself against data loss and cloud vendors take every possible precaution. Most vendors practice what’s known as redundancy, which is when the vendor stores at least three copies of your data, each in a different location.

For a data loss to happen, you’d have to lose all three copies of your data. This is possible but very unlikely since none of the data centers aren’t located near each other. So in the event of a natural disaster, one copy could be destroyed but the other two will be fine.

In this example, an on-site data center is actually more susceptible than cloud storage. If a fire broke out in your office, all your most important data could be lost for good. If you’re utilizing cloud storage, you still have two more copies of your data. So, in order to keep your data safe, make sure choose the best storage method for your needs, and also ensure you have a disaster recovery plan in place.

[Read: 3 Important Facts About Cloud Backup]

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