The Advantages and Disadvantages of Cloud Computing

It is a trend that is gaining more and more support in both the private and the business sector: the outsourcing of IT services such as data storage, computing power or application software, so that one does not have to work with one’s own hardware and software. Where the advantages and disadvantages of cloud computing lie, I would like to introduce you to in this article.

Off to the cloud! Everyone is moving, at least that’s how it seems. Private individuals store their data in the cloud instead of relying on their physical storage media alone. For cost reasons, companies are outsourcing more and more IT services, be it hardware or software.

But should we follow the trend? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing generally refers to the provision and use of IT infrastructure such as storage space, computing power or software via the Internet. The idea behind this is to make these IT infrastructures available via a computer network so that they do not have to be installed on local computers. The provision and use of the respective IT services therefore takes place exclusively via technical interfaces and protocols as well as client software – often simply a web browser. The principle of cloud computing is primarily aimed at achieving considerable cost and effort savings. Cloud computing is available in three variants: Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). IaaS primarily comprises the provision of technical infrastructure such as computing power, networks or storage space. The scope of these services can be adjusted at any time according to user needs. PaaS offers users a platform for developing and offering their own software applications. This type of cloud service provides flexible programming and development environments for this purpose. The SaaS variant is also referred to as software on demand and represents the highest level of cloud computing. The SaaS model comprises pure software applications that are made available to users as cloud services by the respective provider.

Examples of Cloud Computing

Probably the best known form of cloud computing are cloud storage services such as Google Drive, Amazon Cloud Drive or Microsoft OneDrive. With these providers, private users and companies can rent capacity on storage servers to store data. Another example, especially for cloud computing in companies, are cloud service providers that run software applications on their servers and make them available to companies worldwide via the Internet. In addition to the rental and use of software, such a solution can also include the associated computer capacities. Cloud computing can also provide computing power in conjunction with a development environment so that a company can develop its own software products decentrally in the cloud.

Advantages and disadvantages of the cloud for private users


For private users, the advantages of cloud computing over the use of their own hardware and software are primarily that they do not need their own hardware resources to store data or use the application software provided by the cloud service. In other words, data carriers such as external hard disks or USB sticks become obsolete and there is no risk of damaging, misplacing or even losing them – nor can they be stolen. In addition, your own hardware does not need to be adapted and upgraded as most cloud services can be used via a web browser or a client. A further advantage is the possibility of accessing the respective cloud service at any time and with different devices, whether stationary or mobile. The only requirement, apart from having a compatible device, is a functioning Internet connection. In addition, data such as pictures, documents, music or videos can be exchanged, shared and jointly edited with others by setting up appropriate access rights for friends, family or work colleagues. This means you don’t have to be in the same place, exchange media, or email rows for collaborative projects. If required and with the appropriate authorization, the data can also be downloaded locally.


Disadvantages of the use of cloud services can be found mainly area of security. The computer systems of cloud service providers have to be maintained and secured with great technical and financial effort. One reason for this is the recurring hacker attacks on servers of well-known cloud providers such as Google or Amazon. These attacks often aim to capture personal user data as well as data stored on the storage servers. A further drawback is the open transfer of data – open above all because every cloud provider informs about this in its terms of use. In most cases, account and login data such as name, address, email, telephone number and payment information must be stored in order to use cloud services. And of course this data is stored, used for the provision of the service and partly – depending on the provider and data protection declaration – also passed on. In the case of cloud storage services, similar rules also apply to the data stored in the cloud. Another problem is that the content is not only stored or passed on, but sometimes also copied, moved, modified, evaluated, logged or used for other purposes. In accordance with the terms of use of most cloud providers, this is done within the framework of applicable data protection guidelines – but this is particularly relative when EU citizens fall back on cloud services that have placed their company headquarters and servers in non-European countries.

What the privacy statements of the individual cloud storage services look like is described in the article Cloud providers: What about data protection?

Advantages and disadvantages of the cloud for companies


The advantages of using cloud services for companies are, among other things, the saving of sometimes considerable investments for services that can simply be rented from external service providers in the cloud. This saves costs in terms of both personnel and hardware. This also means that no long-term capital commitment is required, since the costs for all the services required, such as the use of hardware resources or special application software, are usually billed monthly and can therefore be easily calculated. In addition, the costs for renting a cloud solution are generally much lower than the costs for purchasing your own hardware and software, which correspond to the desired service. The fact that hardware in particular requires regular upgrades in order to remain up-to-date with the latest technology is also a significant cost factor that is not incurred when using a cloud service and is transferred to the respective provider. This also applies to cost-intensive preventive measures for failure protection. A further advantage is the saving of costs for IT specialists, who must always maintain and repair the infrastructure, since this personnel is provided by the cloud provider. Another advantage for companies is the good adaptability of the respective services. The amount of storage space, computing power and software package can thus be precisely selected and adapted to actual requirements at any time. In addition, several branches or company locations can be easily connected to the IT infrastructure used at low cost. Ultimately, the security factor can also be mentioned as an advantage. Access to resources by a company’s employees is controlled by the cloud provider’s administration. The same applies to access protection to computer systems.


Disadvantages for companies are, for example, dependency on the supplier, who may not take sufficient care of customers, may not be able to provide sufficient capacity or may become unable to act due to insolvency. This would of course have a negative impact on all services that a company has booked with the cloud service provider concerned and possibly already paid for. When a company uses a cloud provider, the question also arises as to what happens best in the long term for handling sensitive, company-related data. If you leave this to the care of the service provider, you inevitably enter into a certain dependency. The same applies to one’s own IT competence: if one has no or only a few experts in the company who are familiar with the technology, hardware and software, one is largely dependent on the performance of the cloud provider. The quality of the Internet connection can also be critical. Especially in rural areas, high-speed Internet has often not yet arrived.

Bottom line

Nowadays, you can’t do without cloud computing at all. Many private users use cloud services from Google, Amazon or Microsoft, and cloud services for areas such as CRM, CMS, project management, security or data storage are very popular with companies. If you can strike an acceptable balance between these advantages and disadvantages as a private individual or as a company manager, I think cloud computing is a highly recommendable solution. Some drawbacks may be negligible, especially when compared to the weight of some benefits and the benefits they bring. Ultimately, of course, everyone has to decide for themselves whether and to what extent it makes sense to go for a cloud solution.

What do you think about cloud computing? Are you already using cloud solutions? Just write your experiences and opinions in the comments.

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