Stacks on Stacks

Secure Cloud Storage Backups

Cloud storage is great option for backing up documents, photos, etc. Let’s look at some of the issues surrounding cloud storage for backups.

Cost Effective

With prices as low as $1.99/month for 100 GB on Google Drive, you are effectively paying $0.02/GB/month for storage. If you don’t mind dealing with compressed archives (.tar.gz), you can save even more on your storage cost.


You can of course buy local storage for cheaper than is offered by cloud providers if you buy a high capacity drive. In fact, this 5TB Portable Hard Drive has a one time cost of about $0.028/GB ($130.00/4656 GB estimated usable storage = $0.02792). However, the thing you gain with cloud storage is redundancy. What happens if you lose that drive? Mechanical failure is inevitable.


Compared to the drive in the previous example which can only be in one place at a time, cloud storage allows you to access your files anywhere at any time. This accessibility is a huge win.


Many of the previous points highlight the benefits of cloud storage. Let’s consider the point of security though. Now, I’m not saying that these larger companies are using your uploaded file contents and metadata to train their AIs for things like photo recognition, document indexing, etc., but its not out of the question. For those that take security very seriously, you might not want scans of your medical documents to live in cloud storage, easily readable. It is this last part that spurs the rest of this post.

Encrypting & Decrypting your files.

In order to encrypt our files, we’ll need to install GPG. We are only going to focus on symmetric encryption for this example. That means that we will use a passphrase to encrypt our file and the same passphrase will be used to decrypt our file as well. The benefits of this are its ease of use. Especially for beginners who might not be familiar with key management, remembering a “password” so to speak can be much easier.

Install GPG

Encrypt your file

I usually use a .tar.gz compressed archive format. You can find more info on it in this Wikipedia page. The major benefit of this is that I only have 1 file to encrypt and upload.

Anyways, to encrypt your file simply do:

gpg -c myfile.tar.gz

This will prompt you for a passphrase twice to confirm it is correct. Then it will spit out a file myfile.tar.gz.gpg. This file can now be uploaded as normal and you can be fairly reassured that no one is looking through your collection of cat gifs.

Decrypt your file

Decryption is just as simple. Simply download your gpg file that you uploaded earlier and run:

gpg myfile.tar.gz.gpg

You will be prompted for your passphrase again and after successfully entering it, you will have your original file: myfile.tar.gz.