I’m a big fan of cloud storage, purely because USB flash drive or external hard drive is no longer dependable. While this statement is widely open for debate, read through on why I came up with this opinion.
Physical storage device, especially when it small, can slip from your hand. Nowadays, many manufacturers made USB flash drives as small as humanly possible. This due to the fact that they want us as users, feel comfortable to carry them. But it comes with consequences, you might lost it because of this purpose, while external hard drive is too big and too uncomfortable for you to carry. You can imagine if you put your important information in one of these things, and lose it. Cloud storage provides service to keep your files that you can never lose, unless you delete it on purpose. Even if you accidentally delete it, it will usually go to Trash folder of your cloud account. Which in fact, you can always restore.
Physical storage device prone to error in reading and writing to the physical drive. That goes without saying the most frequent thing that happen to me personally. I’m using different OS platform and exchanging information between filesystem is tedious. Not to mention if antivirus deliberately intercept file transfer and, bit too ‘generous’ to delete files that it considers as threat to your system. Not only this, USB flash drive or external hard drive can easily slip from your carry and well, there goes few MB of good writeable sector.
Storage size. It is true, that external hard drives have the advantage of bigger storage size. People who usually buy TBs of external hard drive usually keep videos in it. This is one of the disadvantage of cloud storage.
Now, assuming you don’t have steady yet fast internet connection, cloud storage is a big no no to keep your video collections. But if you only want to keep what’s important to you such as documents and photos, cloud storage is more than enough to safely keep them for you. At this point of journal entry, the biggest cloud service that you can have is provided by Bitcasa. They have this feature “Infinite” storage which will keep expanding as you put stuff in it. But there’s a flaw though, the client for Mac is not stable enough, in terms of syncing the files. There are few cloud storage services available so far: SkyDrive, Google Drive, Box, and Dropbox. All of them provides really good client with stable synchronisation facility. Among all of these providers, Box is the one that’ll give you the biggest free storage space of 10 GB.
Physical storage devices are also prone to viruses, trojans, malware, and other bad stuff, especially when you frequently plug in your device to different system. Not all system provides antivirus and external storage devices do not have antivirus. Who knows what goes into your external storage devices. This risk is eliminated if you use cloud storage.
Cloud storage provides client for smartphones. This means portability and mobility. This is something that flash drive or external hard drive couldn’t do. It will be huge advantage if you want to carry your documents and read/write them on the go on your smartphone, laptop, or other compatible devices. You can show to your boss the presentation file that you edit from your Mac at home with your iPad at office. You can show photo collections from your vacation trip without extra work to plug in and copy them into your hard drive. Cloud client will sync it for you in the background.
In conclusion, cloud storage provides safer, easier, and more dependable documents preservation. With smart devices widely available on the market and cloud client apps, the trend is going to the direction of saving your documents in the cloud. I can see they will provide even bigger storage space. While external hard drive or flash drive are for backup. Heck, I myself only use my external hard drive for Time Machine.
But all in all is your choice to make. If you travel quite frequent like me and afraid your physical storage device that contains important documents might lost or left behind, use cloud storage. If you’re afraid during your travel you might damage your storage device, use cloud storage. If you working on different system and frustrated with disk error in writing or reading the data, again, use cloud storage.