AQA Computer Science GCSE
Ethics - Cloud Computing
This area of Unit 8 links very strongly to parts of Unit 4 - Computer Systems: Data storage.
Cloud computing question - slides from class
Cloud storage is used to store data in a remote, off-site storage system. These may be anywhere in the world and are likely to be run by another organisation. Data is said to be stored "in the cloud".
Cloud storage requires access to the internet to work effectively. The higher the internet speed the quicker data can be uploaded ot the cloud or downloaded from it. This makes cloud data reliant on internet speeds - especially if larger files such as videos are going to be transferred or streamed.
The storage facility that data is stored at uses very large hard drives or solid state drives to store data on. These require large buildings and serious amounts of cooling. The buildings themselves need to be secure - especially if sensitive data such as details of new products or finances is going to be stored in them.
There are a range of pros and cons to using cloud storage:
- requires an internet connection, which has a cost associated with it
- mobile data may need to be used - which is limited and potentially costly
- data transfer speeds reliant on internet speed
- data no longer needs to be backed up - cloud systems typically allow removed data to be recovered and store multiple versions of files in different locations
- may require technical knowledge and up to date OS/web browser to use - data could become impossible for individuals to access as a result
- generally only requires a web browser to access - may be less need to install software (e.g. Google Docs)
- files can be shared easily with others, allowing collaborative working much more easily
- security may be an issue - can accounts be hacked? Are data storage sites secure? How strong is a password?
- data has to travel across more networks - each time it does this it may be intercepted
- how comfortable are you with an anonymous company storing all your data for you? Can you trust them? For how long?
- when systems go down there is no on-site backup (for example, Google calendar was down on 18 June 2019)
You can find out more about data centers, including their environmental impacts, at Wikipedia.