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Cloud spotting – choosing an online storage solution

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Consumer protection

Hand pressing a cloud computing icon on blurred cityscape background

Imagine you store all your photos, music and personal documents in the cloud and you pay for a 50GB storage account.

Then, one day, you get an email telling you that your service is being changed and you can now only store 10GB. You can either pay extra for the 50GB, or your data will be deleted.  What do you do?

The CMA has looked at the cloud storage services sector recently and we found that they can offer many benefits including:

  • access to a larger memory space so you can store, backup and access increasing amounts of information
  • protection against data loss
  • the ability to access information from multiple devices or locations
  • the ease of sharing files with other people

Most people we surveyed during our consumer law compliance review said they use free services that come with their devices, and were satisfied with the services provided.

But we also identified some complaints and found that some people may not be choosing services that are suitable for their needs.

Different cloud storage services do different things. To help users recognise the differences, we’ve published some advice and a short animated video showing what to look out for when signing up for and using cloud storage services.

Top tips include:

  • check the service meets your needs before you buy
  • read the contract terms and conditions and look out for terms that allow the business to:
    • change details about the service
    • terminate or suspend the service without letting you know first
    • unfairly limit its liability where data is lost or damaged

You have individual rights to challenge terms in the contract if you think they are unfair, even if you have signed up to them. Consumer law protects you from businesses that use unfair terms. See our guidance for business for more information.

We’re also working with a number of cloud storage providers to ensure that they provide you with fair contract terms. For more information about the CMA’s review and our guidance to businesses see: Cloud storage: consumer compliance review.

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