Cloud storage is becoming ubiquitous in the business world thanks to its security, ease of use, and accessibility. Is it time to move your business data to the cloud? Your business files are essential to your company’s success, so it’s important to make the right choice. In this article, we’ll help you decide if cloud storage is right for your business by explaining:
- What cloud storage is.
- The pros and cons of cloud storage for businesses.
- How to choose a provider and prepare for file migration.
What Exactly Is Cloud Storage?
Cloud storage saves digital files to a secure, off-premise server owned by a third party. “The cloud” sounds intangible, but your files aren’t floating around in the ether. When you save a file to the cloud, you’re using the internet to upload the file remotely to a server in your chosen provider’s data center. You and your employees can access these files instantly from anywhere and on any device. If cloud storage still seems a bit abstract, think about how your email works. Your emails aren’t housed on your personal computer. They’re stored by an email client such as Gmail or Outlook so that you can access them in real-time from anywhere. Cloud storage is essentially the same thing but with stronger security protocols, more storage space, and more features.
What Are the Pros and Cons for Businesses Using Cloud Storage?
There’s a reason why businesses in every industry are moving to the cloud. The cloud’s benefits are hard to beat, but it’s important to weigh both the pros and the cons against your specific business goals.
Cloud storage is more cost-effective than an on-premise server, which requires a significant up-front capital investment and ongoing maintenance. With the cloud, you pay for a plan and the provider is responsible for maintaining and upgrading the hardware.
- Easy to scale
Cloud storage can be increased or decreased to match your changing business needs. You never have to pay for more than you need, and upgrading or downgrading can be done with a single click.
- Better data backups
The files your business stores in the cloud are protected with redundant backups. Your data is automatically backed up and stored across multiple facilities. If disaster strikes at one location, you won’t experience any data loss.
- Productivity tools
Most cloud solutions are more than simple online repositories. Depending on the provider, you may also get many helpful features such as messaging, software integrations, automatic device syncing, and mobile apps. These productivity tools help your team communicate and collaborate more effectively.
- Strong security protocols
Cloud storage providers take digital security seriously. The security protocols vary across vendors, but you can expect most to offer some level of encryption (256-bit is best), secure links, options to customize user access, and strong password enforcement.
- Third-party access
Storing your business files in the cloud means that this data is no longer physically in your control. Despite the many security features used for cloud storage, some business owners may not feel comfortable entrusting sensitive data to an outside party.
- Requires internet
You must have internet access to retrieve your files in the cloud. If your internet connection fails, your business faces costly downtime.
- Vendor lock-in
Once you’ve selected your cloud solution and uploaded your data, it can be difficult to switch providers even if you’re unhappy with the service. Your business gets “locked-in” to a specific provider because moving all of your data would temporarily put your business operations on pause. You can reduce this risk by thoroughly evaluating the pricing, functionality, and user reviews of several cloud solutions.
What Does the Process of Switching to Cloud Storage Entail?
Switching your business to cloud storage is daunting. We’ve collected some tips to help you find the perfect cloud solution while getting your data ready for seamless, headache-free cloud migration.
Choose a Cloud Storage Provider
Finding a reliable and secure cloud storage solution is the most important step. Take your time reviewing your options. Get answers to the questions below and compare the results across vendors to select the best option for your business.
- What are the security protocols?
Any competent cloud storage provider can answer this question in detail and without hesitation. Look for a provider that offers encryption, user roles and permissions, redundant backups, and an accessible support team.
- What productivity features does the platform have?
There’s a wide range of options here, and what’s important to you depends on your company’s specific needs. Do you need easy task management for projects? A chat feature to keep your team in touch with each other? Automatic device syncing for easy remote access?
- What comes with each plan, and how much is it?
Most cloud solutions are priced by the amount of storage you need, the number of users you have, and the type of features you want access to.
Delete Old Data
Providers base their cloud storage pricing on the amount of storage you use, so deleting old files can save you money. Some files may no longer be in regular use but are still valuable for their historical data. Be sure to consider this before hitting the delete button. You want to keep your data as lean as possible without sacrificing information you may need later.
Back-up Your Files
Before you start moving any files, it’s crucial to back up your data to a local device such as an on-site server, external hard drive, or flash drive. It’s best to have two backups on different devices that are stored in different locations. It may seem like overkill, but your files contain invaluable information that’s vital to your business. It’s better to have an extra backup and not need it than to risk a server crashing and erasing your only backup.
Start Your File Migration
Transferring huge amounts of data at once can cause trouble for even the most reliable internet connections. There are three easy ways to help mitigate connection issues as you migrate your data to the cloud.
- File transfer protocol (FTP)
File transfer protocol is a method of transferring files from one system to another. To use this option, you’ll need to download an FTP client. FileZilla is a great free option. FTP may not increase the speed of your transfers, but it ensures you won’t lose file upload progress if your internet connection is disrupted. When this happens, the FTP client automatically reconnects to the internet once it’s available and picks the transfer up where it left off. FTP clients often have complicated-looking interfaces. This technology turned 50 this year, and though it’s reliable, it’s overdue for a user-friendly redesign. If you’re not comfortable with technology, you may find FTP overwhelming.
- Ethernet cable
Connecting your computer to your router with an ethernet cable offers several benefits for your cloud migration. It stabilizes your internet connection and improves your upload speed, and it also makes your transfers more secure. It’s much more difficult for a hacker to attack a direct internet connection than it is to intercept data moving over Wi-Fi.
- Batch transfers
If you prefer the drag-and-drop upload method over FTP, consider transferring your data in batches to ease the load on your internet connection. You can save time by moving entire folders over rather than moving each file individually. The pros of cloud storage outweigh the cons for many businesses today, but it’s important to look at these considerations against your company’s unique needs. The information and tips above will help you make an informed decision about the best file storage option for your business.
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