What is cloud migration?

What is cloud migration?
(Image credit: Unsplash)

Cloud migration involves moving one’s files and digital assets from traditional, physical storage (e.g., a hard drive or USB flash drive) to the cloud. The cloud simply refers to file storage services provided over the internet. Individuals and businesses can store files on a cloud provider’s servers for retrieval at a later time. 

The advantages to migrating are manifold. Cloud storage enables content creators to access their work from anywhere, while many of the best cloud storage platforms also include useful features for organising, editing, sharing, and collaborating. 

Once a tedious task, prone to error, cloud migration is now relatively simple. This is thanks in large part to the convenient and comprehensive migration tools provided by many cloud storage providers. In this article, we’ll take a look at the principles of cloud migration, how cloud storage can improve your workflow, and the simplest way to go about it.

01. Cloud Migration 101

Migrating to the cloud means moving your digital assets (like image files, videos, text documents and sound files) from traditional physical storage to the cloud. The cloud, in turn, offers a virtually unlimited space for creatives to store their files and enables them to share and collaborate with ease. 

Physical storage refers to internal storage devices, like those found in your computer or tablet, as well as mobile storage solutions, like a USB flash drive. Cloud storage, on the other hand, involves storing your files on secure servers maintained by a cloud provider like iDrive or pCloud. You can access your files over the Internet at any time and, conveniently, from any device. This makes it easy to view and share creative files, even when on the go.

Cloud migration can also mean moving your workflow to the cloud. One way to do this is to use native applications that leverage cloud storage, like Adobe® Photoshop and the Creative Cloud. A more complete variation is to use a web-only application such as Canva or Figma. This is particularly useful for businesses and agencies that depend on rich collaborative features. 

02. Why migrate?

So, why are more and more content creators opting for cloud services over traditional on-premises solutions?

The answer is simple, but it has profound implications. It has to do with the fact that cloud providers are specialists in file storage: they have the resources, technology and knowledge to offer better, faster, more secure storage than, say, your external harddrive. 

Take, for example, file redundancy. Redundancy refers to the storage of multiple copies of the same file, sometimes on different media or in different locations. It ensures that even if a file or entire harddrive becomes corrupt, another version exists elsewhere and so your data is safe. This isn’t something you can easily do on your own, but it’s built into almost all cloud storage services. 

Add to this robust security, rapid file transfers, automatic file organization driven by machine learning and artificial intelligence, enhanced search features, and seamless synchronization with your computer or tablet, and it’s easy to see why creators are flocking to the cloud in droves. 

Cloud storage also makes it easier to share your work with the world and, importantly, prospective clients. Securely sharing files or a portfolio with a simple URL, rather than having to send them by email (watch out for that file size limit!), is easier for both you and your client. Advanced cloud storage providers, especially those built for creatives (like Adobe® Creative Cloud) even allow for comments and annotations. 

Collaboration is also much easier when files and assets can be easily and quickly shared between coworkers. Rather than sending files back and forth, co-creators can access the same file from a cloud drive. Some allow for duplicate versions, to avoid overwriting another’s progress, while some cloud applications, like Figma and Gravit, even allow for real-time, synchronous collaboration. 

What is cloud migration

Figma allows for real time collaboration thanks to advanced cloud functionality (Image credit: Figma)

03. How to migrate to the cloud

This begs the obvious question of how one goes about successful cloud migration. 

If you’re specifically looking for cloud storage, start by choosing a cloud storage provider that meets your needs. If you’re looking for something that’s fast, simple to set up, and easy to use, check out iDrive. Alternatively, if you’re not a fan of subscription services, try pCloud. You’re spoilt for choice, so scope out the competition and take your pick.

Cloud storage providers like these are a great choice for individuals looking to leverage all the benefits of cloud migration without totally overhauling their workflow. You work as you normally would, and files are synced automatically between your hard drive and the cloud. Of course, many creative suites, like Adobe Creative Cloud and Autodesk Cloud, incorporate cloud storage directly into the software. 

Small- and medium-sized businesses can also reap the rewards of cloud migration, on scales ranging from simple cloud storage to full-blown cloud computing. 

Cloud migration does, however, require greater planning and forethought. You’ll want to go through each of your processes and workflows, highlighting opportunities for improvement with cloud storage and other forms of cloud computing, but also any potential stumbling blocks. 

For most individuals, though, cloud migration will be simple and straightforward. Select a provider, determine how much cloud storage you’ll need, set up synchronisation, and enjoy the flexibility, security, and peace of mind that comes with it. 

04. Cloud migration sum up

The best cloud storage providers today make cloud migration easy. The process involves moving or copying your files to a provider’s secure servers over the internet, a procedure that’s been greatly refined and simplified over the years. In most cases today, it’s as simple as clicking and dragging. 

The benefits of cloud migration are manifold and significant, including file redundancy and high-end security, plus easier file sharing with colleagues and clients. Creatives can get started by comparing cloud providers, selecting one that fits their needs, and manually copying their files or setting up automatic synchronisation as desired. 

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Christian is a freelance writer and content project manager, with over six years' experience writing and leading teams in finance and technology for some of the world's largest online publishers, including TechRadar and Tom's Guide.