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Cloud synchronisation: security for data?

Cloud data storageThe subject of data synchronisation is not a simple one, so when you join a Cloud, you need to know how it works.

For individuals, Apple’s iCloud service is typically a Cloud-data synchronisation service. What’s interesting about iCloud is that it allows the user to choose what type of data to synchronise from which terminal, be it a MacBook, PC, iPhone, iPad, etc. For example, two or three of the devices might synchronise contacts, while only two synchronise photos. It may be of interest to reserve more space for music on one device and more for photos on others; the idea being that the space paid for on the iCloud server is enough to hold all your data (Apple offers 5GB of space free).

So in summary, on iCloud there is a unique space somewhere on a server which holds all the data of each device that you choose to synchronise.

Does Cloud synchronisation mean a guarantee for your data?

In some ways yes, in others no. For example, if one of your devices decides to delete all the synchronised photos, they also disappear from the iCloud server and hence from the rest of your synchronised devices. If an actual backup of the data stored on iCloud isn’t made, as in a file that stores the state of all data (photos, contacts, etc.) at a precise moment, then deletion of data from any device is hence permanent and non-recoverable.

Also, without being alarmist, it is up to the user to closely guard their Apple username and password, as anyone with bad intentions could access user data and do with it what they please. By the same token, an iPad without sufficient protection in the hands of a child could, unintentionally, lead to missing data. A backup of data stored on iCloud is a must so that data isn’t lost through synchronisation. However, this increases the tariff as the data exists in two redundant forms.

And in the professional world?

In the professional world, the problem is the same, but the data administrator options are not. The administrator of a service such as Microsoft’s Office 365, for example, is able to manage the data retention of one or more user inboxes, even if the user has purposefully deleted mail. This ability is generally only exploited when data retention is used in disputes. An un-emptied ‘recycle bin’ is usually enough to recover the information needed.

So what guarantees do professionals benefit from by synchronising their data?

That depends on the available options, on the administrator, and the data policies of the company. The advantage of synchronisation is having the ability to access data from various devices. But it mustn’t be forgotten, particularly in the case of emails, what the specific server options are. But whatever happens, backing up data is essential, whether that be to a Cloud and/or a chosen server.