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Just when you thought Apple Mac versus Windows 10 PC war was over: Cloud versus hard drive has just begun.

Just when you thought Apple Mac versus Windows 10 PC war was over: Cloud versus hard drive has just begun.

Of all the neverending conflicts the tech world has seen, Mac versus PC is the longest lasting, going strong for more than 30 years. Think about it: PC versus Mac pre-dates the modern World Wide Web, the invention of Wi-Fi, and the genesis of the word “Millennial” as we use it today.

The Cloud is a term that we have become increasingly familiar with over the past decade, starting from the typical campy confusion that spawned memes, viral jokes, and even motion pictures, until today, when cloud storage has become a service that we have come to rely on as much as we do with water, power and gasoline.

With that said, cloud storage, and all the services that come with it, are beginning to impact demand for a much more finite resource, with is local hard drive storage.

Most mobile devices are often sold with a skimpy supply of it, a little more than enough to cover the operating system and and a relatively ample number of apps, but certainly not comparable to what a Google Drive, OneDrive or Apple iCloud account can give you for the right monthly fee.

What should you invest on and why: cloud storage or a capable hard drive?

Let’s start by looking at five great things about each:

Cloud storage:

  1. You never lose your data
  2. You can access your data anywhere there is an Internet connection
  3. Storage is relatively cheap (1TB on Google Drive goes for $9.99)
  4. You get access to an array of services like free office suites (Google Docs, Sheets, MS Office, iCloud online tools, etc.)
  5. You can share files and folders instantly with anyone.

Local Storage

  1. SSD’s are superfast and boost your PC’s performance
  2. There is no monthly fee to access your data
  3. You can encrypt your files and folders using tools like BitLocker, so no one can steal your data even if they steal or gain access to your computer.
  4. SSD’s are becoming cheaper, and more accessible.,
  5. SSD’s are growing is size, up to par with obsolete spinning drives.

All of the above are great perks, but are they all pertinent to your profile as a user? Let’s figure it out, by looking at what type of user you are.

Students, employees, online freelancers

If you fall somewhere within these categories, chances are that cloud storage is the right choice. Students are often required to turn in homework by submitting it online at their school’s web portal. Office workers, and most corporate employees are also heavily reliant on cloud storage, as well as online freelancers who need services like Google Drive and DropBox, to share files with clients and coworkers.

There are very few drawbacks to using cloud services to store files, but it’s important to keep in mind that these services come with very lengthy terms of service agreements, especially with regard to privacy and confidentiality of your information and your data. All services, from OneDrive, to Google and iCloud and beyond, DO monitor user activity, and what files are being uploaded. Google, for instance, has made news headlines for catching and reporting child pornography to the authorities, which lead to arrests.

On one hand, is great that these services are internally policed, to keep the community safe, but on the other hand, it is a fact that no matter what you set your privacy settings on, someone, or something, is indeed taking a constantly updated inventory of every file you upload, download, share, or delete.

Security professionals, programmers, creative professionals and gamers

Security professionals, such as those who work on system vulnerabilities, and virus detection, need local storage, to be able to setup virtual environments where to safely test potentially infected apps, which is something that is impossible to do on any cloud service.

Creative professionals may fall somehow within the scope of the above categories, as tools like Adobe Creative Cloud relies on an online subscription to function, but this is really not optional, and more of a technical requirement. When working with large volumes of files, for example when editing video, or when working on a design or engineering project, access to plenty of local resources is necessary. Files created in Photoshop, AutoCAD, or Illustrator, can be not only very complex, but very large, and editing them locally is the only option.

Local storage doesn’t simply provides ample space to store files, it also provides additional random memory to applications, such as Adobe CC apps that use features like scratch disks, to store temporary data for faster access and processing.

The one drawback about opting for a local hard drive, rather than a cloud service, is that hard drives break, and backup services must be setup additionally, to ensure that your data can be restored in the event of a virus attack, or physical damage.

Retrieving data from older spinning drives is easier than from a broken SSD, but it is also extremely expensive, often well beyond what the data itself is worth, and certainly well beyond what you paid for the drive itself.

SSD’s on the other hand are more durable, but once an SSD has gone bad, the data goes with it, even if, statistically, it’s not a common occurrence, depending on the manufacturer.

The other problem with local storage is that it’s often incompatible across different systems. For instance, a drive formatted on a Mac, cannot be read on a PC, without specialized software capable of reading the data.

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