Getty Images/iStockphoto


Cloud storage vs. data center: How to choose

It's essential to have efficient and cost-effective data storage. Both cloud and data center storage offer good options, so understand your needs before you choose.

By 2025, global data storage will total dozens of zettabytes, with much of it in the cloud. Many companies find cloud storage to be the best platform, but there are some situations where data center storage is best.

Look at the benefits and drawbacks of data storage in both data centers and clouds, including scalability and cost, and decide which works best.

Why choose cloud storage

Most companies choose cloud storage for two main reasons: reliability and scalability. But it's more than just that. Cloud storage reduces operational, IT, maintenance and hardware costs because the cloud provider shoulders it all. Providers ensure their storage services run for all their customers. However, back up cloud storage data in the event of an outage or other incident.

Cloud storage can be faster for users because it usually uses VMs and spreads data across various servers. This process reduces the chances of bottlenecks and application delays.

Why choose data center storage

Sometimes, there's nothing like hosting data on your own infrastructure and network. Users keep their data separate from others.

Chart of data center storage uses

However, data center storage requires internal staff and technical expertise to effectively deploy, run, and maintain the data and infrastructure. Deploy it in any configuration, maintain strict control over performance and security, and ensure strict compliance with regulatory requirements for the business or industry. This setup costs more in the long term but may be worthwhile depending on the business.

Differences between cloud and data center

The major differences in cloud storage vs. data center are scalability, security and cost, but they aren't the only ones.


Cloud storage is easily scalable since it's run on virtual servers that admins can spin up or down quickly.

Data center storage capacity is limited to the infrastructure in place in the facility. Increasing capacity means investing in more hardware and staff to handle it all.


Cloud data storage may offer strong security in its infrastructure. Still, since it's accessible by anyone from anywhere with the proper credentials through the internet, it poses a security risk. Cloud customers cannot change the security the cloud provider offers.

Data center storage is inherently more secure because only authorized accounts can access it with proper credentials from within the company's network. Enhance security with additional measures, such as role-based access controls and identity management applications.

Chart of cloud storage uses

Budget and investments

Deploying a data center requires a large upfront investment and significant ongoing maintenance, staffing and facilities costs.

Cloud storage, whether in a public or private cloud, costs less upfront as the cloud vendor assumes the deployment and maintenance expenses. The vendor charges regular ongoing costs for usage and other user-based costs.


Cloud storage is generally faster because the data is decentralized among the various servers dedicated to storage.

Data center storage depends on the speed of the company's network to handle requests and the amount of data storage.


Cloud vendors can handle infrastructure updates more easily because they have the staffing available or they happen automatically.

Users of data center storage are responsible for any updates. If the IT team is overwhelmed with other work, it may deprioritize these updates unknowingly.

Analyze cloud storage vs. data center based on many factors, such as budget, workload, staffing levels and industry requirements.

Data recovery

Recovery is easier with cloud storage because the data is distributed across the cloud environment. Admins can quickly and efficiently restore it.

Data center recovery may be frustrating because it can take a long time. In addition, users might not even recover all the lost data.

Which data storage should you choose?

Analyze cloud storage vs. data center based on many factors, such as budget, workload, staffing levels and industry requirements.

Generally, small companies and startups should go with cloud storage -- they won't need large, upfront investments because it's subscription-based. Companies that need specialized storage or have regulatory requirements may choose a private cloud to ensure data is kept separate from other cloud vendor customers.

Larger companies and enterprises can use either cloud or data center storage, depending on their needs. For example, if the company has no regulatory requirements and a small IT team or budget, public cloud data storage might be right. Businesses with specific regulatory needs and small budgets could choose between private cloud or third-party data center storage.

Dig Deeper on Cloud storage

Disaster Recovery
Data Backup
Data Center
and ESG