I have often recommended using file storage services in the cloud for storing your genealogy information and for storing any other information that is valuable to you. Whether you use the cloud as your primary storage area or if you use it simply as a backup to your computers’ disk drives is unimportant. If information is important to you, you need to have AT LEAST two copies of everything, stored in two different places. Three copies of everything stored in three different places would be better still and four copies… well, you get the idea. You can never have too many backup copies.
What interests me is that prices of storing data in the cloud keep dropping. Today, Google made new changes to its storage plans that include a new, low-cost storage plan and half off the price of its 2 terabytes storage option. Details may be found in Google’s announcement at: https://www.blog.google/products/google-one/one-simple-way-get-more-out-google/.
Several changes were announced:
1. All Google Drive paid storage plans are converting to Google One, perhaps in part because you’ll now have one-tap access to Google’s live customer service. This is the first time live support is coming to Google for users who do not pay for Google’s G Suite for business accounts.
2. If you want to use Google One without paying at all, the company will still offer Drive’s basic 15 gigabytes of FREE storage space.
3. For only $2.99 a month, Google One will provide 200 gigabytes of storage. The 2 terabytes plan (that’s 2,000 gigabytes!), which usually costs $19.99 per month, will now cost $9.99 a month. Finally, the 1 terabyte plan that previously cost $9.99 a month is being removed. The other plans for 10, 20, or 30 terabytes won’t see any changes.
4. Google will also make the Google One plan shareable within a family of up to five members.
Note: Google’s prices are still not the lowest available. If you shop around, you can find even lower prices from other companies, although probably without live customer service. For instance, Canada’s Sync.com offers 500 gigabytes of storage for $4.08 a month, New Zealand’s Mega.co.nz offers 200 gigabytes of storage for 4.99 Euros a month (roughly $5.95 US), and Amazon S3 offers a variety of services with some of them as cheap as $0.004 per gigabyte per month (500 gigabytes will cost $2.00 per month).
One caveat with Amazon S3, however, is that it is more difficult to install and configure than most other cloud storage services and normally requires purchasing additional software from a third-party to actually transfer the data. Amazon simply sells the file storage space, not the required software to make all the pieces to work together. Also, Amazon does not offer free live customer service at these prices; you are on your own to make it all work.
With millions of customers, Google cannot “flip a switch” and instantly convert all its servers to the new plans. Instead, the new pricing will be rolled out to everyone over the next few weeks. The upgrade will arrive first to users who already pay for additional Google Drive storage, and you can expect to see an email confirming the change shortly.
I am aware that some computer owners who are not familiar with cloud technology are afraid of it, thinking that the cloud is not secure. The truth is exactly the opposite: today’s cloud storage services are even more secure than storing files in your own computers where they are vulnerable to hackers around the world as well as thieves who steal flash drives, cell phones, tablets, or laptop computers from backpacks and briefcases. For instance, a number of corporations suffered hacker attacks on their internally-hosted corporate databases but have since moved their data to the cloud to take advantage of the better security offered.
Note: For more information about the security of storing data in the cloud, see Cloud computing security on Wikipedia at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing_security
If you are concerned about the possible loss of your genealogy data or any other data that is important to you, you might consider cloud storage, whether you decide to use Google or on any of a couple dozen other cloud storage services. For instance, at least two copies of all my important information is securely encrypted and then stored in two different cloud storage services. Even the employees of the cloud storage services cannot read my encrypted files.
Besides security, another advantage is that all the same information is available to me quickly on my desktop, laptop, and tablet computers as well as even on the cell phone, regardless of where I am, as long as I have a cellular network or wi-fi connection.
You might consider doing the same.