How Environmentally Friendly Is Cloud Storage?

How Environmentally Friendly Is Cloud Storage?

It seems like everyone and their brother has a cloud storage account these days. Google, Microsoft and Apple all offer free limited storage for anyone willing to sign up for an account, allowing you to store up to a gigabyte of pictures, music or text files online. While it seems to be greener than storing things on paper or printing physical photos, just how eco-friendly is cloud storage?

Benefits of cloud storage

Why should people consider switching to cloud storage? Let’s take a quick look at the benefits of cloud storage for both business and personal applications.

  • Lower costs: The cost per gigabyte for cloud storage is cheaper than any other option. It also lowers maintenance costs, as you won’t be responsible for keeping or maintaining any hard drives or other hardware.
  • Higher data redundancy: It’s always a good idea to have a backup of your backup. Cloud storage makes this more accessible than ever. If you’ve got enough storage space, setting up a second or third backup is as simple as clicking a button.
  • Regulation compliance: Many new customer privacy laws require storage of customer data in the affected country. Instead of renting storage space in that country, you can invest in local cloud storage to make it easier to comply with privacy regulations.
  • Ransomware protection: Ransomware, or a virus that locks the computer and encrypts the files until the victim pays a fee, is a growing problem. A ransomware attack took down the UK’s National Health Service for a few days in 2018 in what is called the Wannacry attack.
  • Remote access: If you employ remote workers or move from place to place as your job demands, having remote access to your files can be extremely convenient and improve productivity.

These are just a few of the benefits of cloud storage. You might find even more benefits to switching from office-based storage to cloud storage. The question remains, though — is cloud storage more eco-friendly than keeping your files in the office?

The power of sustainability

Sustainability is more than just a buzzword — in today’s climate, it can mean the difference between a successful business and a failed one. In one survey, more than half of customers said they would buy a lower-quality product if the company were more focused on sustainability. Eighty-four percent decide where to shop based on the company’s stance on sustainability.

What does this have to do with cloud storage?

First, using cloud-based storage requires less power. That might seem counterintuitive because of the sheer size of the server farms that support this type of storage, but the servers have a design that uses all the energy as efficiently as possible. Keeping hard drives at your storefront or office draws power from the building’s power grid, which isn’t as efficient.

While reduced power consumption is good for your power bill, it can also be beneficial for your carbon footprint. Traditional power generation across the globe relies primarily on burning oil, natural gas, coal and other derivative fossil fuels. In 2017, this practice generated more than 1,700 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Using less power by switching to cloud storage or relying on green energy sources eliminates many of those emissions. Using cloud storage server farms that power their facilities with solar, wind or other green energy options can lower energy usage even further.

Reduce environmental impact

When a hard drive dies, it doesn’t just cause a problem for your data storage — it also becomes e-waste, which is a growing problem around the world. E-waste may only make up two percent of total global waste, but it represents more than 70 percent of the planet’s toxic waste. Most of those devices shouldn’t go in the garbage — the majority of e-waste is recyclable. By switching to cloud storage services, you can eliminate the need for recycling because you don’t have any hard drives on hand to fail or replace.

Related Post: The Problem with E-Waste: How the Rich Industrialized Nations Deal with Electronic Junk

Most companies have already transitioned to digital data storage instead of traditional paper storage, but fewer have chosen to use cloud data storage. Cloud storage options are still growing and changing, but it is quickly becoming one of the best choices an eco-conscious company can make. Storing your information online is just as secure as keeping it in-house, but it reduces your company’s carbon footprint and power bill, and even helps lessen e-waste across the globe.

Cloud storage does come with some additional costs. Storing your data on the cloud — especially for business purposes — will require a monthly fee, but the price is infinitely less than keeping digital data storage on hand and maintaining the hardware. If you’re looking for ways to bring your company into the 21st century and make your business eco-friendlier, upgrading to cloud storage is one of the best choices you can make.

For more information, check out some of these greener cloud storage businesses:

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Images courtesy of Unsplash.

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