When it comes to web hosting, there two key components that rule them all.  The first is bandwidth, how much data can you transfer and how fast can you transfer it.  The second is storage, how much data can you keep on your hard drive.  These days bandwidth is much cheaper than ever before and really doesn’t pose any problems for most web companies.  When it comes to storage though, that can be much more troublesome and costly.

While storage costs have definitely declined (especially on the consumer end), every web service that lets you upload data (photos, videos, documents, etc) needs to have physical hard drives installed in a server to hold that data.  Not only do they need hold one copy of your data, but any reputable service will have backups of that data, which means even more hard drives and even more costs.

Earlier we wrote about how RapidShare, a file hosting company, previously allowed users to have unlimited storage space for free.  “It was a wrong decision to introduce the unlimited storage space without any restrictions in the first place,” RapidShare’s CEO Alexandra Zwingli said to BestTechie.  It’s just not a sustainable business model — storage costs are just too high.

Everyone talks about storing data in the cloud, which in reality is just a fancy way of saying they’re storing your data in big server farms.  And that’s important to remember from an end user perspective.  It’s important because you need to remember that your data isn’t just magically sitting in some cloud, there’s some server somewhere in the world which is storing your data on its hard drive and it’s costing some company a great deal of money (in aggregate), so if you aren’t paying for it, chances are it won’t last forever.

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Hell, even Google charges you if you want to store more than 5GB of data in Google Drive — and they’re Google.

In an effort to help everyone remember where their data is actually going when you send it to the cloud, we designed a little graphic for you.  Enjoy.

The Real Cloud

And that concludes our Public Service Announcement for today.

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