The Cloud has become a very ubiquitous term amongst web developers and techies in recent years. The popularity stems from keeping all your data stored externally in the cloud environment, on separate web servers all around the world. Cloud hosting support for personal files and CDN’s have grown enormously with very little regulation.

But why are so many web developers moving into this new field? I would like to look a bit deeper into this topics and figure out why cloud hosting is such a lucrative idea. There is a growing divide between local storage and the Internet which has become synonymous with “the cloud”. There is nothing inherently wrong with storing files across various servers. But you do need to consider some of the security risks imposed with these ideas.

How Webmasters Benefit

Cloud hosting is perfect for some instances where developers don’t want to deal with organizing images in one location. When you have a CDN backing up your content then all the bandwidth is delivered through their pipelines. Then you can focus on writing content and building pages for web marketing.

The benefits are seen mostly on websites with tremendous amounts of traffic. When you are pushing millions of pageviews each month then you need to maintain server resources just for pulling out database info and handling traffic spikes. So ultimately moving your images off onto an external CDN is one way to speed up page loading times.

working on web designer freelance MacBook

It’s fair to say that not all web designers will need cloud hosting for their websites. In most instances you won’t be getting enough traffic to find the website bogged down and sluggish. But another interesting point is backing up data into the cloud which you can download at some later date.

beach ball with MySQL database logo

Obviously no website backup is helpful unless you can store a physical copy. Web servers and cloud hosting services are located all around the world, and so it’s difficult pinpointing where you would keep files geographically. Pulling weekly or monthly backups of your website files & database SQL code is just good practice for security measures.

Media for Content Networks

Obviously the most popular cloud CDN service includes Amazon CloudFront, or AWS(Amazon Web Services) for short. They have scaled an enormous amount of servers and technology to be pushing data and bandwidth 24/7.

Working with a trusted cloud host such as Amazon has plenty of benefits for the average developer. You can begin learning how to work with the API, and you’ll gain experience through a trusted community of other developers. Amazon also has support for newcomers who need to learn the ropes of their hosting platform.

Amazon.com CloudFront logo design icon

Big media files are often the most pricey for paid hosting solutions, but cloud hosting may turn out a lot quicker and cheaper in the long run. I’m thinking of video streaming or huge photo collections where you’re pushing 100 or more in a single gallery page. You have to think of these files being requested hundreds of thousands of times by different visitors and how your web server would handle these requests alternatively.

Hosting and Privacy Concerns

With a personal web server you have access to all your files and they are trusted to be kept private from your hosting company. There is a similar idea with cloud computing, except your files are not physically stored on one local machine. Oftentimes a larger Content Delivery Network will virtualize servers amongst hundreds of thousands of machines.

This could mean your files may end up scattered all over various data centers across the globe. It’s tough to believe there are no prying eyes when it comes to personal files. But really this concern is all about what types of files you’ll need to host for websites.

Mobile Dropbox app for iPhone

Basic images and other web media is a no-brainer since you’ll be posting these public on a website anyways. But Photoshop PSDs or other creative content for your project work should be kept locally, or stored on a personal private cloud account such as Dropbox. It’s not to say you shouldn’t trust any cloud hosting companies with your personal data. But why take unnecessary risks when you’re dealing with NDA’s or similar nondisclosure projects?

Where is the Future Going?

This is a great question for cloud hosting which I don’t have a definite answer at this time. It seems like most web developers are coming around that in certain instances it’s much cheaper to host your public files in the cloud. Everybody has access to them anyways so there aren’t very many security risks.

But keeping all your data stored offsite in cloud computing is going too far in my opinion. Steve Wozniak was recently published in an article discussing how nobody really owns anything hosted in the cloud. This is a fair argument and worth taking into consideration when dealing with your own personal files. Some things are just better kept in local storage backups at home or in the office.

But don’t let these ideas completely discourage you from cloud hosting altogether. There are plenty of emergency situations where a whole datacenter goes dark and your website goes offline as a consequence. But working through a cloud network means your website will be virtualized across many different servers, possibly even with parity backups.

The smartest people in the world are talking right now about this idea of “the cloud” and how we can move forward together. This technology is still in-between a completely secure method of data storage for consumer-level backups. However web designers are already taking the benefits into account and testing out methods for delivery over various CDN cloud services.

Final Thoughts

CDN Cloud web hosts are offering a vital service to web developers. You are only paying a limited amount of money based on your bandwidth or from a certain pay period. This allows technology to scale quicker than the price costs, and webmasters are getting a lot better service.

But obviously there is not a sense of total privacy when hosting your files out in the cloud. This doesn’t mean anybody has access to all your files. But it’s unlikely that all these networks are 100% secure all the time – although what technology really is foolproof? It’s worth taking these ideas with a grain of salt and considering if you would ever need cloud hosting for web projects in the future. Also do a bit of research through Google and you’re bound to find lots of juicy information.

Posted by Jake Rocheleau

Jake is a writer & digital designer/illustrator. He writes about all things web and creative. Check out his website for work samples and follow his latest updates on Twitter @jakerocheleau.

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