Over the last few years there has been an increase in alternatives to data storage, namely cloud storage, a service that allows you to host your files and videos in a ‘cloud’ and access them from any computer, Mac or tablet. But what is better to use – cloud storage or a USB flash drive?

For a one-off cost of around £10, you can purchase an 8GB USB flash drive. With cloud storage, you can get a certain amount of space for free but anything larger will cost money (Dropbox currently offers £7.99 for 1TB storage).

A thumb drive lets you drag and drop the files onto the device and transfer the files to whatever computer, laptop or Apple Mac you want. Cloud storage is slightly similar as you upload documents into the cloud but you must have a reliable internet connection to upload and download data.

Most cloud storage services offer customers free storage with the option to pay extra for more allowance. Meanwhile flash drives are becoming increasingly more efficient, larger, cheaper and come in a range of data sizes.

If you upload your file to cloud storage, it’s safely stored there and can only be edited or deleted if you have access to the storage, but recent hacking scandals question its protection. Otherwise a flash drive can be encrypted but there is a risk unprotected drives can be picked up and used by anyone to steal private information.

It depends on personal preference and what you want out of both formats. If you wish to backup your files before restoring or repairing your PC, a thumb drive would be preferable while cloud storage would be satisfactory if you want to share a few files. Both options are uncomplicated to use but have their flaws – cloud storage requires an internet connection to access files whereas a USB flash drive can be stolen or damaged. Cloud storage is certainly one to explore, given how companies like Google offer free 15GB storage with Google Drive to Gmail users.

For further advice or assistance with flash drives and cloud storage, please visit Bits & PCs, the essential place for computer and business IT support in London.

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