Public or Private: Which Cloud is Right for You?

By Lindsey Patterson, Contributing Writer  |  February 13, 2017

Cloud services are gaining in popularity as the capabilities continue to evolve rapidly. Along with these capabilities, many questions may arise for business owners and users alike. The majority of these questions may be answered through understanding the implications that arise out of utilizing a public or private cloud as your primary method of storage in the future. There are several reasons why an enterprise may use a public cloud in contrast to an individual user. Alternatively, there are many reasons why an individual user would prefer to integrate a private cloud as a part of their storage options. In this article, we will cover the main differences between using a public vs. private cloud.

Understanding the Difference Between a Public and Private Cloud

Before diving into the implications of each type of cloud, it is important to understand what a cloud is. The cloud is simply a server that uploads, maintains, and stores your data from a remote location. Therefore, your cloud storage will usually be in the domain of another company.

Deciding to integrate a public or private cloud option will generally fall upon the security you require for your information. As the names suggest, a public cloud will be less secure while a private cloud will provide more security. The largest tradeoff between these two is the performance of each option.

In every form of computing, there is an ongoing battle between optimization and security. It all boils down to whether performance or security is your goal.

The Case for Private Clouds

The cloud has seen a huge increase in sales and integration in 2016, however, this may deteriorate as hackers and viruses begin to target cloud storage. In recent years, viruses like ransomware and the like have been increasing in strength and power. In 2017, cybersecurity experts expect many ransomware viruses to target cloud storage systems. This creates a large market for the private cloud in relation to the public cloud.

As stated above, integrating a private cloud into your business model or home will grant you higher levels of security. In fact, many security experts tend to preach the importance of using a private cloud resource. There are many pros to using a private cloud service, but they come with cons as well.


  • Control: You are in charge of your data, not a separate entity.
  • Protection: The data lives behind your firewall. Therefore, any breaches lie upon your protection.
  • Offline: Because it is your storage, you can create an infrastructure that can be accessed offline.
  • Flexibility: You design the entire platform with private network services.
  • Domain: You maintain full domain over your cloud storage. Therefore, you do not rely on a third party, which is especially important if the provider shuts down.


  • Breach by employees: Your employees will have physical access to your servers and thus, your cloud storage.
  • Act of Nature: If the local power grid shuts down, you no longer have access to the system.

The Case for Public Clouds

Alternatively, many companies like Dropbox (News - Alert) and Google provide a public version of the cloud. In comparison, these services are rapid and optimized in an effort to provide a great customer experience. There are many pros that come with a public cloud, but they come with cons as well.


  • Relative security: Your information lives behind an enterprise-level firewall
  • Physical security: Many companies have multiple lines of security protecting your information
  • Less responsibility: You are not responsible for maintaining your system through different crises


  • Access: Access can be attained anywhere
  • Liability: Your data can be accessed by an outside party, which may result in viruses or diminished security
  • Diminished Law Protection: There is little to no established laws concerning public cloud storage

The ultimate decision is based on your needs. There are large implications that come with each form of cloud storage, however, if your business is based on optimization and performance, perhaps you would benefit from a public cloud storage option. Alternatively, if you require high levels of security, a private storage is a must. As stated above, it is ultimately your decision that must be based on your personal needs.

Edited by Alicia Young