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You use multiple computers in work, home and mobile devices (android, ipad). You want to share your files between devices and you use physical sources: an SD card, dvds, a usb stick etc. with every flaw that it implies: losing the physical storage device, you lose all your data. This can happen by theft, fire, loss or whatever.

So one sunny day, the cloud appeared. Everything yours is stored "somewhere" and even If you burn your computers and bury them 6 feet underneath the ground, you will still be able to work and retrieve all of them. But has it really solved anything?

As I see things, some kind of balance exists between "physical safety" and "virtual safety". You compromise the private safety of your own home and physical devices to give your personal data to a stranger, by signing an agreement that he will be trust worthy. But that's not only the deal.

Authorised sources (like "research" government agencies - theoretically) could be able to bypass this agreement and "take a look" in your data. Hackers, your jealous "best" friend, or your neighbour could gain access to your data, accidentally or not. Easier than breaking through your home, breaking the lock of your drawer and cracking the encryption of your laptop !

So finally, what is the point? Most of the people do not care or do not have the knowledge to understand all that. I see that the cloud has taken a step forward and at the same time 10 steps back. I do not own confidential illegal data, but I won't like to see my family photos fiddling around somewhere in the chaos of the internet.

I could use an encrypted truecrypt schema backed up in two or three sources, but it's not that easy for everyday work.

Taking about sanity, what is the safest approach?

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The answer is very complex and depends on many factors:

  • which kind of information would you like to store in a cloud,
  • how much you care about them,
  • how much you will be affected in case of those data disclosure,
  • how much money and time would you like to spend on your data storing solutions.

Personal data sounds like important stuff to me, so I would suggest you to not store you data in one of big-company, free services, such as Dropbox or Google Drive. Maybe it seems to be a bit too preventive, but big organisations are well known for their curiosity of our data. So I would choose one of commercial services, usually they pay more attention to security. But of course not always.

The second thing is to encrypt your data, with use of some well-known and tested tested solution. Most security-related people consider TrueCrypt as fine tool. If will choose some other tool remember to check which kind of algorithms it use. At the moment AES-256 (symmetric), RSA-2048 (asymmetric) and SHA-512 (hash) are consider secure enough.


If you have plenty of time, some Unix skills and a bit of infrastructure you can also install you own cloud with use of such software as ownCloud or SparkleShare.

EDIT: I just found a another similar software called SeaFile, they just release version 2.1.


There are also solutions called Virtual Private Cloud, which run partially in your infrastructure, but usually they are for commercial use. Please see the list of virtual private cloud providers.

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  • Snowden said that NSA builds a computer that could crack any encryption. I guess that we're heading towards "no privacy at all" era. – Radolino Jan 10 '14 at 12:50
  • Snowden said it will be quantum computer. This kind of "computer" does not crack any encryption. In fact it cracks RSA algorithm (factorization problem) which compromise such popular solutions like SSL. But there are some encryption algorithms than quantum computer will be not able to crack, like i.e. elliptic curves. – boleslaw.smialy Jan 10 '14 at 13:58
  • @boleslaw.smialy, actually quantum computers also make some elliptic curves much easier to crack, but less easier than RSA alone. Having said that, you can't crack a long random password (symmetric key) in the same way. – Acumenus Apr 16 '14 at 1:34

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