Before you ride the cloud, it's important to know who you're surfing with. Choose a company with a good reputation for both physical and network security. Many of the internet -based storage providers (HP, IBM, etc.) have established track records. The big ones also focus primarily on business services and come with a heftier price tag. For personal cloud services, your options are mostly among lesser known service providers. Fortunately, many provide quality, affordable service. With prices below $100 a year, Pogoplug, for instance, offers three well reviewed private cloud service plans with up to 1 TB of storage space and allowing for up to seven users [sources: Farrar, Pogoplug].
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers. Cloud users should pick a good password. Several good passwords. While it's much easier to just go with one for all internet sites, doing so makes hackers' jobs easier: all they have to do is get one password for access to all of your information. For the accounts that are most important, like banking, be sure to come up with unique passwords [source: Greenfield].
Users can also throw hackers off of their scent by establishing different login names for various accounts. Hackers generally look for username-password combos, rather than various email addresses using the same password. Even if you only have one email address, you can use variations of it for user name/login purposes. Gmail and other electronic mail providers allow users to link variations of their email address. For example, a person whose email address is YourName@gmail.com can also use YourName+LinkedIn@gmail.com and YourName+Twitter@gmail.com in order to login in to cloud-based sites [source: Greenfield].
Finally, many cloud service providers cloak data en route to the cloud by encrypting files on a user's computer or device before uploading it and sending the data to the cloud using what is called a secure socket layer (SSL) Internet connection. The files remain encrypted, requiring a key to unscramble them. Most cloud service providers use their own keys and unlock the data whenever the user needs it. Some allow users to select their own keys [source: Spector].
Check out the links on the following page for more information on life in the cloud.