While the use of cloud is on the increase, there is still a very important role for portable storage, particularly in countries where pervasive and reliable connectivity is lacking, and the cost of data is prohibitive.
This is the view of Tony Yu, ADATA country manager for South Africa, who says: “In South Africa, fixed-line connectivity is still concentrated around urban areas, with people in more remote areas relying on mobile connectivity to access the internet.
“The challenge we face, however, is that mobile data in the country is expensive, with South Africa ranking as the most expensive in the top six countries in Africa. For consumers to use cloud storage they require reliable connectivity that is affordable. A slow or unstable connection could be the source of much frustration for the consumer.”
Yu believes there are several circumstances where portable storage would make more sense for consumers. “With a portable storage device, they will still be able to back up the data that is important to them, without requiring an internet connection or using up their expensive mobile data. The cost of data roaming is also very high, so for travelling professionals, a portable storage device might also be a better option.”
In 2017, mobile service providers came under fire for the high cost of connectivity, but, despite out of bundle rates being reduced, the overall cost of data remains very high. The service providers have argued that they require more spectrum to be made available for them to roll out more affordable data bundles, but the process of spectrum allocation is yet to commence.
“Unless something is done to extend fixed-line connectivity and drive down the cost of mobile data, using cloud storage will not be a viable option for many South Africans. Couple that with the fact that the cost of portable hard drives has come down significantly since they first hit the market and you have a much better solution for consumers’ backup and data storage needs,” he says.
Many pundits will argue that cloud storage is far more secure and reliable due to the resources that the big cloud providers put into their public cloud solutions, and that portable hard drives are more vulnerable to damage, due to their portability. “Portable hard drives have evolved enormously over the past couple of years,” says Yu.
“We, as ADATA, for example, have hard drives available that have military-grade shock resistance and have water and dust resistant protection. Additionally, these devices are equipped with shock sensors and should they detect strong vibrations while the device is in use its protective systems will be activated to prevent further damage.”