By Dan Durrer, Founder & CEO, No-IP
Whether you are gaming with friends or game planning your next business venture, it is likely that you are relying on the cloud for data storage. On the surface, paying a monthly fee and keeping all your information stored in a cloud application or service sounds great; but there’s another cost that’s lurking: the cost of uncertainty. Uncertainty in how the vast amount of your personal data is being protected. How much do you value protecting the privacy of your baby monitor, security camera or sensitive workplace documents? Do you want more control over your network performance and monthly service costs?
To truly understand if cloud solutions are your best bet, it’s important to understand the inherent drawbacks of the cloud and consider the cost you are willing to pay for the “convenience” of the cloud.
Data Visibility Shouldn’t Be Clouded
Anytime you sign up with a cloud data service, it’s hard to validate whether their end-to-end is secure, or what tools they’re using to stay secure. There’s ambiguity around most companies’ internal data protection policies, and it would take some serious sleuthing to find answers. You don’t know where your data is stored (it could be on a server in another country) and whether the /“terms and conditions” you breezed through entitled the provider to sell your data to advertisers.
Let’s consider IoT devices as an example: most security cameras, smart doorbells, and baby monitors have low profit margins. The provider makes their money from the cloud subscription services required to keep these devices online. It just so happens that most of these security camera companies are owned by a large corporation — Nest by Google, Blink and Ring by Amazon, etc. It’s very much a black-box situation; what happens to your security feeds and personal info when they pop up into the cloud? Should you be worried about data usage like we’ve seen from TikTok and Facebook recently?
Choosing the right data storage and remote access solution comes down to the value you place on data protection, performance, and flexibility. A few questions to ask yourself if you are trying to decide whether to go the cloud or DDNS route:
- Where is this device manufactured?
- Who owns this company?
- Where are the cloud servers hosted?
- Could I explore a self-hosting situation that might save me stress or money?
- Do I even really care about any of this? Or do I just want to get set up and move on?
Key Considerations of the Cloud
Reliability: Anytime you’re pushing your data up to the cloud and then out to the internet, there’s an opportunity for extra latency. The cloud often brings slower connections and higher bandwidth requirements as data is uploaded from your IoT devices to the cloud, and then down to the phone or app you’re using to view or control it. This doesn’t occur when you’re directly connecting with your devices through DDNS services.
Relying on the cloud also makes you subject to outages, which last year affected companies as large as Twitter, Zoom and British Airways. Plus, 80% of organizations experienced a serious cloud security incident during the last year, according to Snyk’s State of Cloud Security 2022 report.
Vendor Lock-In: Once you sign up for a recurring cloud subscription service, it’s often difficult to get out of the engagement. You might experience high switching costs (like replacing the equipment you’ve already purchased that isn’t compatible with any other service), or have large amounts of data that become difficult to migrate to a different cloud server. You could be stuck paying for a service you’re not truly smitten with.
Recurring Costs: You’ve heard of “death by 1,000 papercuts.” But what about “death by 1,000 cloud SaaS subscriptions?”
You might pay $1.99/month to upload your phone’s photos to Google Photos. Then you realize you already signed up for iCloud storage through Apple last year. If you set up six security cameras around your house, you’ll need six different subscriptions to keep each of them connected. Now add your new baby monitor….and so on and so forth.
Sure, $1.99/month here and $30/month there might not seem like a lot on the surface, but those costs can add up: especially in an uncertain economy. The cost of easy setup can sometimes be outweighed by long-term, recurring subscription fees.
Staying in Direct Contact with Your Devices: DDNS
When truly having control over data, network quality and spend is a priority, it might make sense to curtail use of the cloud altogether in favor of a Dynamic DNS (DDNS) solution.
DDNS allows access to devices from any location, without relying on the cloud. Your hostname stays active with your current IP address so you are always able to access your devices (computers, security cams, etc.) remotely. Because you are directly connecting with your devices, you – and only you — control what is shared, and with whom.
The Distinct Differences of DDNS
DDNS can provide you with some potentially game-changing advantages, including:
Security: Cloud servers are often vulnerable to security breaches that occur because of high traffic and cyber attacks. With DDNS, you control your connection and data; your DDNS provider has no visibility into the data being transferred. This gives you greater control and security over your information, as you can ensure that your data is not being accessed or monitored by any third-party.
Control: When using cloud servers, you’ll have less flexibility and control of your network and ports. DDNS puts you in control of your network, meaning you control which ports are open and who can view your device.
Visibility: Any data that’s passed through cloud servers could theoretically be viewed by cloud providers and any third parties they associate with. Dynamic DNS, meanwhile, is simply a private connection to your remote devices. Your DDNS provider doesn’t even have the ability to view your data, even if they wanted to.
Price: You can often find DDNS solutions for free, or extremely low monthly fees. Plus, it’s a one-stop shop; one subscription will cover all of your bases.
Like with any weather forecast, stormy weather in the forecast doesn’t mean you will be rained on, but it is important to understand the implications of what you are signing up for and what can lie ahead. Signing up with a cloud application could lead to some stormy days.
About the Author
Dan Durrer is the Founder and CEO of No-IP, a company based in Reno, Nevada, that provides Dynamic DNS services and other Internet infrastructure solutions. Durrer is well-known for his passion for technology and his commitment to providing reliable and affordable internet infrastructure services. He has been the driving force behind No-IP’s growth and success, and his leadership has helped No-IP expand our offerings to include domain registration, SSL certificates, email services, and more.