Electronic Health Records Servers

­These servers store Electronic Health Records (EHR) for the Military Health System, allowing doctors to access health records of patients instantly.

David S. Holloway/Getty Images

Examples of Cloud Storage

There are hundreds of cloud storage providers on the Web, and their numbers seem to increase every day. Not only are there a lot of companies competing to provide storage, but also the amount of storage each company offers to clients seems to grow regularly.

You're probably familiar with several providers of cloud storage services, though you might not think of them in that way. Here are a few well-known companies that offer some form of cloud storage:

  • Google Docs allows users to upload documents, spreadsheets and presentations to Google's data servers. Users can edit files using a Google application. Users can also publish documents so that other people can read them or even make edits, which means Google Docs is also an example of cloud computing.
  • Web e-mail providers like Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail store e-mail messages on their own servers. Users can access their e-mail from computers and other devices connected to the Internet.
  • Sites like Flickr and Picasa host millions of digital photographs. Their users create online photo albums by uploading pictures directly to the services' servers.
  • YouTube hosts millions of user-uploaded video files.
  • Web site hosting companies like StartLogic, Hostmonster and GoDaddy store the files and data for client Web sites.
  • Social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace allow members to post pictures and other content. All of that content is stored on the respective site's servers.
  • Services like Xdrive, MediaMax and Strongspace offer storage space for any kind of digital data.

Some of the services listed above are free. Others charge a flat fee for a certain amount of storage, and still others have a sliding scale depending on what the client needs. In general, the price for online storage has fallen as more companies have entered the industry. Even many of the companies that charge for digital storage offer at least a certain amount for free.

Is there enough of a demand for storage to support all the companies jumping into the market? Some people think that if there's space to be filled, someone will fill it. Others think the industry is destined to experience a crash not unlike the dot-com bubble burst in 2000. We'll have to wait and see.

What are some potential cloud storage problems? Find out in the next section.