Cloud Storage – Safe? Or Sorry?

Technology moves at its own pace – a lot faster than most people can keep up with.

Does your television link with the internet and Netflix and You-Tube? Mine neither – when I go into an electrical shop I don’t know what some of the machines even do.
Computer technology is no different tablets, pcs, laptops, netbooks, Android, Apple OS Lion, Android Cupcake, Do-Nut and KitKat. Crikey!

For most of us the model of a computer is still what it was over 30 years ago (just faster). A box full of documents and information. It probably links to the internet for information and communication but all of its data is still held inside it.

For the “techies” that is a laughably outdated model. Welcome to the world of a thin client, a basic machine holding no data but accessing your “virtual” data box in “the Cloud”. Automatically updating so need for virus data protection. No problem if the machine is stolen as there is no information in it anyway. The computer can be cheap – see the range of ChromeBook machines.

Last month the Economist magazine published an enthusiastic report called “the impact of the Cloud” . According to it the Cloud is only just beginning and its impact in future years will revolutionize the way in which tech is used – read the link here

But call me a Luddite – why is there no mention of the issues that for me and so many people I meet make us feel wary about the Cloud – worrying whether we are trusting our treasured data to Guardians we neither know nor understand.

Personally I am disappointed that the report is silent about:
* A conflict with the American Patriot Act (the US government demands access to all data stored on computers in the USA)
* The conflict with the Professional Regulators’ requirements for Notaries, Solicitors, Accountants and other professionals to maintain and manage their storage of data safely and securely for many years
* Where is the Cloud anyway? – in China, Russia? A war zone?
* Does your Cloud talk to my Cloud? It is only relatively recently that the world has got used to having one major word processing program – “Word” – and now we can all read each other’s documents when they are emailed – Do we have to start all over again?
* The ability of the owners of the Cloud hardware to ransom my data – to hike up the storage price at whim. To withhold access in the event of any dispute or, on a larger scale, wars or conflicts between countries.
* We all still remember the issues and discussions about Kindle – whether justified or not the worry remains in many minds that Amazon are in a position simply to delete your treasured digital collection of books. Is the fact that they have promised not to do so adequate if they actually have the power to do so?
* Most recently, we have the hacking of Celebrity “Selfies”. Not proven that the theft was from Cloud Storage, but it is presumed by many commentators.

As a Notary responsible for safely storing my data (which is, of course, also your data) I personally think I need to know a lot more about the Cloud before I can rely upon it and abandon the tried and tested method of multiple backups to discs drives in my possession. In my research on this topic I have come across a very succinct definition of the fears that I am trying to articulate. “The Cloud works better, but it fails worse”

Whenever you need your documents notarized in England for use abroad, do contact me at +44 (0)113 816 0116