As scientists, data is the most precious tool that we have in our research. Good data allows us to advance in our careers and bad data can quickly put an end to it. In a time, where topics like data integrity, data quality, and data open access are becoming more and more popular, we write this article to assure that you can make the correct decision when it comes to storing your scientific data.
Everyone often talks about data integrity, management, and protection, but what about where to put the data itself? Well, here we can give you some insight into the pros and cons of using a cloud vs local server to store your scientific data.
The constant digitization of the laboratory ecosystem translates into a tremendous increase in data generation at a digital level. This data, whether it is raw data or in your lab notebook, needs to be securely stored somewhere and two options are available: Cloud or local Servers.
A cloud is a type of a server, which is remote (usually in Data Centers), meaning you access it via the internet. You are renting the server space, rather than owning the server. A local (regular) server is one that you do buy and own physically, as well as have on site with you.
You are already using several cloud-based tools including email providers (Gmail, Outlook, etc…), storage/backup Softwares (iCloud, Dropbox, Box, etc…) and all social media platforms that you might have an account in.
The first pro of using a cloud is that the cloud provider handles all of the maintenance and upgrades. This means you have one less thing to worry about. It is also easy to up or downscale the amount of space in the cloud. So, you are just paying for the amount you need.
The data is also stored remotely and never stored on your computer, meaning it is not occupying space unnecessarily. If there are technical issues on site, your data will be safe in the cloud. A final pro is that you can access the data stored in the cloud from wherever there is an internet connection.
On the other side of the accessing via the internet, a con can be that if your internet connection is not very strong you could have trouble accessing the data. However, with some software, you are still able to access the data offline. But you will either be unable to edit the data offline or you can edit it and then it will sync later. You will also need to check how easy it would be to transfer the data elsewhere should you stop using the cloud.
In your research group, department or institute you might already have a local server available. Instead of storing your microscope data in the microscope computer, you are transferring it to another storage device, so that you can access it from other computers and also assure that the microscope computer does not get filled with data in 1 day.
The first pro of using a local server is the speed. The speed refers to that with which you can up/download data to the server. You also have total control the system setup, to make sure it fits your exact needs.
The control also extends to your backups, and everything else to do with the data since you own the server completely. It may also feel more secure to have a local server, onsite, since only you and your team can physically, and of course digitally, access it.
The main con of installing a local server is needing to install it and then maintain it. Sometimes the hardware can be costly and if problems arise, you will need to do the troubleshooting. However, this would, of course, be where the IT team would come to save the day!
Here at labfolder, we have both the option to use a cloud or locally installed server. First, with both the cloud and local server, we use state of the art web security technology to protect your data.
Specifically for the cloud, you will have 300GB of storage space per person on your team. Communication is encrypted between your device and the labfolder cloud. Nightly backups are made of your data, which is stored in two locations, one of which is non-disclosed. This redundant storage and backups help to ensure your data is safe.
The servers can have unlimited space. labfolder brings the strictest international data protection laws to your side. The server-client communication is of military-grade AES-256 encryption standard. In order to run labfolder on your servers, we can provide you with a local solution that can even be updated remotely.
Check the technical requirements of your local server here. You can always start using the cloud version – if you decide for the server option later, the transfer of your data to your local servers is included when you buy the server version.