Every service, no matter what kind it is, is going to have up and down sides to it, pros and cons. We know this is a part of the bargain, but a lot of times a little information can clear things up and help us understand the services we love using that much better. If you’ve ever used a cloud storage service then you most likely know what a great solution this is for storing all kinds of things. There are many important things cloud storage offers that are worth taking advantage of. For example, you can access your data via the Internet from just about any point on the globe. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on a PC, a smart phone, a laptop or a tablet computer – you’ll be able to retrieve your data from your cloud storage account.
Those are the bright points and they outweigh the downsides for most of us. However, it’s always wise to take a good, hard look at issues that cloud storage services face so that we can see why problems occur when they do. A recent article on Phys.org discussed some of these problems as brought to the world’s attention by a group of researchers at the University of Twente in The Netherlands. The university’s Centre for Telematics and Information Technology (known as CTIT) made some interesting findings you’ll be interested to learn about.
Dutch Study Finds Less Than Positive Side of Popular Cloud Storage Service
The scientists were primarily interested in performing a detailed analysis of a popular cloud storage service. For their research, they chose Dropbox because it has an extremely large subscriber base and is one of the better known brands in the industry today. What they discovered might surprise you and one of the biggest things they noted was:
One shortcoming of this service is that performance is greatly dependant on the physical distance to the Dropbox servers.
While we realize that data flows through many different points as it moves from one place to the next online, geographic location of services is not something most people think about anymore when they are using the web. As it turns out, the researchers found that the further away a subscriber was from Dropbox’s main servers at the time they were transferring files to or from Dropbox, the slower the service became. It was revealed that Dropbox uses servers run by Amazon for some of what it does, but not all of it. The specific servers Dropbox is leveraging via Amazon are located in the western half of the United States. Therefore, the further a subscriber is from that part of the world, the more the physical distance can impact performance.
However, that’s not all. The report went on to say:
The administrative functions, such as hashing (slicing up and sequencing the data), take place on its own servers. If the hashes show that a file (or a part thereof) has already been stored, then Dropbox will not transmit that information a second time.
This is something done by other cloud storage providers, too, the reported noted and not just Dropbox. What users of these services may not understand is that encrypting their files before uploading can slow down the process. In order for the hashing Dropbox does for its users to be effective, they must not send in already encrypted files. When they do, performance slows notably. So part of the solution to avoiding low speeds is clearly to avoid encrypting data before sending it to a service that works the way Dropbox does.
Performance Issues and Choosing the Right Service
For the most part, users of Dropbox are not likely to experience much in terms of lag unless they encrypt their files (which they don’t need to do in the first place) and also live geographically far from the western half of the United States. Those two things combined create the most lag, but judging by the sheer volume of subscribers Dropbox enjoys today, it’s unlikely a lot of people mind that much. The real point of research like this is to help us understand the weaker points of the cloud and find ways to improve it. As time goes on, Dropbox and other services will likely continue to find new ways to improve the performance of their services since that is a goal any business must have if they want to stay in business.
Have you had any particularly good or bad experiences with cloud services in regards to their performance? If so, we hope you will share your story below and let us know your thoughts on what you experienced. We try to encourage sharing because individual user experiences are what matter the most when it comes to evaluating services. Please feel free to leave a comment below with what you have to say or, if you have questions, feel free to ask those, too. We will respond as quickly as possible.