Cloud Storage Solutions for Small Businesses
by Chris Asmus, June 2016 for the Fredericksburg Chamber of Commerce Magazine
What exactly is cloud storage?
Cloud storage refers to uploading, storing and accessing your important files (everything from documents and photos to music and videos) remotely on a cloud storage provider’s high-tech servers. While you can see the files on your devices, they actually live on the provider’s server and are being delivered to your devices through the internet. The benefits are that your data is protected and can be easily shared, restored, and/or synchronized to multiple devices. Most cloud storage providers allow a limited amount of free storage, but charge a nominal fee for additional space and more robust features.
5 Reasons why your company should use cloud storage:
Cloud storage goes above and beyond beyond simple file storage. Here are some of the most compelling reasons for your company to leverage cloud storage solutions:
- Location, location, location: Your important files can be accessed from any location and almost any computer or device with an internet connection in the world – meaning you can work from your computer at home, in the office, from your phone at a coffee shop, or a tablet on a beach in Bora Bora. Most cloud storage solutions have easy and/or built in synchronization that ensures the most recent version of your files can be accessed across all of your devices.
- File sharing and collaboration: Most cloud storage solutions allow you set access or permission levels to share files and directories, allowing individuals or groups to share data and work together on files wherever they are, creating a truly global workforce.
- Backup and data protection: The multi-location servers of most cloud storage providers protect your data from natural disasters, power outages or surges, and hardware failures. Because your important files are automatically backed up, you don’t have to remember or go through the tedious process of doing a manual backup. If you do have a hardware failure like a crashed hard drive or virus, you can easily recover your files.
- Security: Cloud storage companies employ technology and security experts to keep your data safe from hackers and ensure the latest security patches and technology updates are in place. Most require a login and some provide multi-level authentication for you to access your files. Almost all of them offer data encryption, which means your data is literally scrambled using code, programming, and algorithms so that it can only be deciphered by authorized users.
- Performance and cost savings: Because of competition and the demand of savvy consumers, cloud storage providers have to be performance and cost driven. Their solutions need to be robust but easy to use, fast, secure, and affordable. While the price of services varies between companies, services, and the amount of storage needed, the cost is a fraction of what a business would pay to buy and maintain their own data backup and storage servers and keep security patches and software up to date.
How do I choose the best cloud storage solution for my business?
There are dozens of great cloud storage solutions out there, so which one is right for you? It is important to have an understanding of which devices you use, how much storage capacity you will need, and what additional functions you want from your cloud storage solution. Are you looking for a simple data backup plan or do you want your staff to be able to collaborate on projects and files? Are you a Google, Microsoft, or Apple fan/user? Is file security the most important consideration or do you need a solution that meets strict compliance regulations?
We combed through the tech articles, ratings, reviews, and the product websites themselves to come up with a list of some of the best cloud storage solutions for small businesses. For each we included a brief summary of features, link to the product website (click on the product name), cost, operating systems supported, and other information to help you make an informed decision. Whatever your needs, all of the recommended solutions offer secure data encryption and will provide backups for your important files!
For more information on recommended cloud storage products or to look into other highly rated solutions, check out the following links: