September 13, 2022 Margus Danil Cloud StorageTechnology

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Environmental Impact of Storing Data Locally vs in the Cloud

Environmental impact of storing data locally vs in the cloud


Some might think that what’s the real difference between backing up your valuable data close to you either to the same location to where original data resides or just to a different building or location that is generally under your control, for example a company’s branch office. Doing so is already a good thing from a risk mitigation perspective.

In contrast to a scenario, when you are backing up (or just storing) data to a cloud that is not under your direct control and you are purchasing service and rely on the service provider’s terms and conditions.

In this article I’m using backup as a use case as an example – from information storing perspective the same applies to archive or other scenarios also – if you are not familiar about what is the difference between a backup or an archive, read Storadera article about “What’s The Difference Between Backup And Archive?”. Also, I concentrate more on the environmental aspects of storing data and not on the economics of it and neither on different use cases. Let’s analyse those two scenarios from an energy efficiency point of view.

Typical small business scenario

Let’s take a quite common real-life scenario: the company has some on premise servers or even some of the employees computers are serving that purpose and the company is risk aware enough then there is a backup usually made to small NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices that are located in the company’s premises. Let’s not take into account the risk associated with this scenario – theft or fire, which can destroy the original data and also the backup might be gone – focus on the efficiency alone.

Quite often this NAS device is a Synology (or other producer) two disk device where disks are in RAID-0 configuration (same data is on both disks to have extra security if one disk fails). According to vendor specifications, device itself consumes approx. 15W in active mode and 5W in idle mode and let’s assume that it consists of 2 Seagate Exos 8TB disks that both consume 11W when operational and 8W when idle, and let’s assume that device is operational/idle 50/50 percent of time, then it can be easily calculated that yearly energy consumption per usable 1 TB of stored data is approx 21 kWh. Now to add additional infrastructure to keep the device working (heating or cooling room where the device is, lights, etc.), let’s assume 40% in total, then the yearly energy consumption to store the same amount is approx. 29 kWh.

Of course TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) wise it is important to calculate device purchase costs, support, personnel, etc. to have full cost on the company’s bottom line. Currently TCO is left out of the calculation and focus is purely on the environmental impact and energy savings as energy is becoming more pricey over the years and being green is more important than ever.

Cloud storage scenario

Let’s now compare this to the cloud storage scenario. If you are not familiar with the concept of cloud storage, you can read more about it in our article “What is cloud backup and why your business needs it?”. Of course there are different characteristics in each service provider’s case. We as Storadera can discuss only from our own perspective. Our infrastructure is hosted in the Baltic’s most modern and green Greenergy Data Centers whose targeted energy efficiency is 1.18. It means that for every 1 kWh used to power IT infrastructure (servers, storage, etc.) only 0.18 kWh is used for data centre cooling, ventilation etc. This is a very low number compared to most data centres. Also Greenergy DC is using 100% renewable energy and has plans to build a vast solar farm to reduce energy consumption from the grid. Also efficiency is related to cloud service provider’s own data-storing-algorithms and in how energy efficient their IT equipment is which actually stores and processes data.

Everybody is not a strong supporter of cloud and there are a lot of companies who have moved to cloud, but due to high costs are seeking ways to migrate some workloads off from it. There is a Storadera article “How much cloud is enough?” to give some light to this.

In the case of Storadera we are using Western Digital Data102 high density storage devices with 18TB drives and Dell servers as the main building blocks of our infrastructure. Taking into account the whole infrastructure including network equipment and also data centre energy efficiency, yearly power consumption of storing 1 TB of usable data is approx. 6 kWh.

To compare 29 kWh and 6 kWh, it is easy to notice that the difference is close to 5x. Think for a second – storing the same amount of data can consume 5 times less energy. And it is mainly because of the scaling effect – large storage devices are just that much better when it comes to unit efficiency. Of course one can bring out that we need to take into account also the energy consumption to transport this data to the cloud service provider and different devices can be more or less efficient, also how we calculate overhead in both scenarios etc, but whatever is the outcome, it is most likely more towards to cloud storage from the energy efficiency point of view.


When being green matters to you or to your company and is also one of your core principles then going for the cloud is a sure bet. Especially if it is also an affordable alternative to owning storage devices. Let your data be there where it is stored at an affordable cost for you and it is also energy efficient, not to mention it’s also secured. Of course, there are plenty of cloud storage alternatives on the market, and you can get a pretty good overview of their similarities and differences from our article “Best affordable cloud storage services for 2022”

We in Storadera believe that simplicity and cost predictability is the key to solving this problem, which is why lots of companies are still afraid of cloud storage services. Storadera’s mission is to provide scalable service and at the same time provide very simple and predictable pricing – you can compare real life prices of your scenario in comparison of different providers with the help of our pricing comparison calculator. For our Storadera Space Premium service package you pay only 6€/TB/monthly. That’s all. It is that simple! No hidden costs!

Storadera has ready-made step-by-step guides on how to start using our service with the most popular backup software applications and appliances like Synology, Veeam, Duplicati etc.

Take your time and test Storadera by signing up for a free account and you’ll be positively surprised how easy it is to set up!

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