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How To: Maximize Cloud Storage Data Privacy

by Tracy Knauer •

Cloud storage services offer convenient and inexpensive solutions for backing up data and syncing it across multiple devices. But if you’re worried about privacy, there are steps you should take to keep your cloud data private.

The best cloud storage solution depends on your needs. How much data do you have to store? How many devices need access to it? Do you need live data syncing, or just storage? These are all important questions to consider as you plan a cloud storage strategy that maximizes privacy while also being cost-efficient.

Generally speaking, however, these tips will help you make the most of cloud storage in a privacy-centric way:

  • Use a storage service that prioritizes privacy. We recommend Seafile. It costs a little more than the storage services from providers like Google and Dropbox, but — unlike them — it provides “zero knowledge” storage, which means the provider can’t access your cloud data even if it wants to.
  • Encrypt the data you upload. Even if your storage provider offers encryption, you can add another layer of privacy by encrypting data yourself. An easy way to do this is to store your files in password-protected archives using B1 before uploading them. For a more robust solution (but one that requires a bit more technical know-how), you can create encrypted volumes with a tool like VeraCrypt. With this approach, anyone who is able to gain access to your cloud data still won’t be able to read it, unless he has your private password or encryption key.
  • Use strong passwords when setting up your cloud storage account. This may go without saying for many people, but it’s worth a reminder that weak passwords make it easier for third parties to access private data in the cloud by hacking into your account. A password manager makes it easy to create super-strong passwords.
  • Encrypt your network connection when uploading or downloading data from the cloud. This prevents network eavesdroppers from intercepting your information. Most cloud storage services offer network encryption via SSL, but you can protect yourself further by using a VPN to add a second layer of encryption to your data while it is in transit.
  • If you’re really into privacy and have the resources, consider setting up a private cloud storage server that only you can access. Packages like the open source version of OwnCloud make this possible. With a private cloud server, you don’t have to worry about other users or a hosting company gaining access to your data, since you’re the only user and you’re also your own cloud host.

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