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I am a student and I didn't care a lot about my passwords strength and my files until now. Now I am thinking about having a backup for all my files in cloud.

Questions:

  • Should I password protect all my archives that I upload? I have a lot of photos and some important files.
  • Do you think cloud is safe enough? Otherwise what are my options?(I would like not to use an external hard disk). Or what techniques to use to better protect my files?

I have read a lot of articles that said we can't be sure that information is encrypted and who has access at it in the cloud. I don't have a lot of knowledge about encryption but I know you need a key to decode an encrypted information. And we don't know where are they storing this keys and how are they storing these.

  • Welcome. Can you change the goal of your question? Products recommendations which are off-topic here. – user45139 Sep 20 '15 at 14:44
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    @Begueradj Sorry for off-topic. I edited my question to a more relevant goal. – Chris Sep 20 '15 at 14:56
  • Another risk: do you trust the cloud service provider; how do you know for sure that the company is not selling your data behind your back. – Willem Van Onsem Sep 20 '15 at 23:33
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    @CommuSoft "It's not that I don't trust you; it's that I don't trust anyone." – Shadur Sep 21 '15 at 5:13
  • @Shadur: that was more or less the point I was trying to make, that although you probably pay for the cloud service, it is still a party that might have two faces. Your statement is evidently more rigorous ;). – Willem Van Onsem Sep 21 '15 at 10:02
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"The Cloud" is marketing speak for "Other People's Servers". I will use that term for the rest of this post.

When you store your data on other people's servers, those people are technically capable to look at your files and also show them to anyone who asks. Whether or not they are allowed to look at them and/or let others look at them should be described in their privacy policy which you should be able to find easily on their website (when you can't find it easily or would need a lawyer to translate it for you: that's a big red flag). Also, some of these people prioritize your convenience over your security and might be easily convinced that someone else is you (remember those mass releases of private photos of celebrities a while ago - the images were mostly obtained from other people's servers through guessing passwords and security questions). Keep in mind that most people who let you store your data on their servers will allow government officials to look at your files when they ask.

When you want to store files on other people's servers, putting them into encrypted ("password protected") archives before you upload them is certainly not a bad idea (just make sure it is proper encryption. The standard ZIP encryption, for example, is very weak. I recommend the 7z format). But you might miss out on some convenience features other people's servers might provide when they have access to unencrypted files.

An alternative to storing data on other people's servers is storing your data on your own servers. There are quite affordable consumer-grade NAS (network attached storage) servers available which you can keep on your home network. When you want more physical distance between your computer and your backups (for example in case of a fire or burglary), you can also rent a server in other peoples network centers and install a solution like OwnCloud on it. This gives you more control over your files because you have more control over the environment it is stored on, but remember that it still runs on other people's servers: When you don't control physical access to a server, it is not your server.

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    NAS sounds like a very good idea. The prices in my country start from 70$. But I don't want to use a cheap one and I cant afford a 300$ NAS as a student without significant income(I still keep this option in mind). So I will encrypt all my files with 7z format(AES-256). Thanks a lot for your answer. I will accept it as the correct one if there will be no other answer to analize in a few days. – Chris Sep 20 '15 at 15:55
  • "The Cloud" is marketing speak for "Other People's Servers". <- The perfect way to start an answer to this question. – T.J. Crowder Sep 21 '15 at 7:34
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As long as you use a third party service to store your data, by principle, nothing guarantees you the safety of your data up to 100% (How Secure is Google Drive?) even if each services claims it's secure (Keep all of your work more secure with Google Drive )

May be the best you can do is to encrypt your data before storing them on the cloud (such as using a the free and opensource GPG or TrueCrypt)

P.S.

I mentioned Google Drive just an example and I tried not to advertise tools.

  • I'd think google are probably the people I'd most want to keep my data away from given their propensity for hoovering up every scrap of data they can... – James Snell Sep 20 '15 at 21:48

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