Technically speaking, file hosting service has existed for a long time but had not had much attention until recently. A few years back, a big MNC underwent data disaster and lost more than half the data they had. To make things worse, the backup servers failed too and the loss was permanent. Investigation found out that the disaster was an outcome of internal software conflicts – one application interfering with other – and the organization’s servers had not been broken into by hackers.
Within weeks, stocks plummeted to 40% of their face value. Despite deploying data recovery teams, the organization did not have much luck saving their business, although a couple of months later it had recovered almost all the data.
It is a bitter pill that no system is hack-proof. There is always an overlying risk of data center getting stolen or worse deleted. Most backup servers that have been deployed now work in unison with the main servers and are in some way linked to each other. Under circumstances where the main servers are compromised, the attacker can easily trace his way to backup servers and compromise them too. This made organizations explore ways to store backups. One of the earlier requisites of backup servers were –
a. It should be remotely located while still being accessible
b. Backup could be restored in no time so that there is minimal downtime
Despite the fact that file hosting service already existed then, it was completely looked over because it was just too simple to solve a complicated problem. After research and development in remote file hosting lent nothing, all eyes were drawn to file hosting severs.
There were preliminary speculations with file hosting sites.
A. Some of the providers were completely anonymous. Even though they were then the faces of remote file hosting industry, their true identity was concealed underneath a made-up name. No organization would grant access to their data to someone they are not completely sure is legitimate. Who knew, if these anonymous providers turned out to be hackers, subscribing to their services would have simply meant axing your own toes.
B. During the first 3 years, file hosting servers had almost 10 dozen attacks and some of them were the worst security hits in the IT industry. People were skeptic if online file hosting providers had rebuilt security.
C. From providers point of view, cloud file hosting was never profitable until sold in bulk. Huge upfront costs and the lack of required clientele were likely to throw the providers out of business.
An Era of Revamping
The moment of eureka had finally dawned providers and organizations. The providers realized that online file hosting was a business too risky and underbuilt to attract customers. The organizations longing remote hosting decided to held on to their conventional backup servers until file hosting industry attains its technological peak.
In the next few years, online file storage underwent changes it had never undergone before. The providers brought their A game on the table and in the process transfigured file hosting services into a more secure, convenient, affordable and revolutionizing solution.
Strict industry compliance came into force. The vendors were subjected to tests and graded accordingly. Obviously, more secure file hosting servers scored higher and made their Certifications a unique selling points. This also sparked a competition among vendors – something that had been dead since ages.
Tier I, II, III and IV data centers were the outcome of continual and unending research and development that IT industry had invested itself into. Uptime went up to 99.99%, data recovery became child’s play, and business solutions became cheaper.
However, one problem continued to linger and threaten the cloud industry – remote positioning of data meant giving up on controls. Also, no doubt file hosting service was now more secure, but what if the provider himself goes thug and decides to spy on your data. Who would know if your files were never spied upon or replicated.
The IT community realized that to gain more trust they need to impose stricter data compliance upon themselves. At first it seemed suicide – more rules and regulations meant more investments – but in never seen situation before, the trick seemed to work. As per the new industry standards, the provider needs to oath (in written) he would never mutilate with or divulge client info. This makes the client legally fit to sue the provider and ask for relevant compensation for the same. This was the turning point remote file hosting industry.
However, cloud storage, by and large, is seen as more suitable for large file hosting.
The Technical Standpoint
Cloud storage is not as easy as it first seems. For a non-technical professional it might look the same as conventional hosting but it is far far from same.
1. Online storage is a pool of virtualized resource –
If you ever noticed, online storage will almost never ask you to manually configure IP to access files. This is because your files are not at one particular server but rather randomly located around a pool of servers. To better understand how this works, imagine if hundreds of servers in a data center were joined together to look a mammoth storage space. Now, every time a file is dumped to this giant storage, it could go to any server, because they are all interconnected.
2. Sharing is easy
That the entire content is accessible online makes it easy to share and collaborate. With file hosting in place, you would no longer need to physically move files from one place to the other. This is especially helpful while collaborating as the changes are almost actively reflected to the server, thus avoiding conflicts arising out of different versions of the same file.
3. Login is protected
One of the things we fail to realize is that our login is still protected. Access to the content is request bases. Means, every time you fetch files a request is generated and sent to the core system that manages the cloud server. Files are delivered only after your login has been verified as genuine.
4. You cannot inject malware
Application security deployed by file hosting providers is the most-advanced and four to five times more robust than your conventional antivirus. Not a single byte of data could go in and out of the file servers until scanned by the security systems.
5. Traffic is Monitored
Even if a program evades antivirus, it cannot pass undetected past the firewall. Most firewall systems monitor not just incoming but also the outgoing traffic. Firewall is the first line of defence, and keeps the system protected by denying access to traffic at the entry itself.