Your business files are the gears that keep your organization moving. In order for your business to run smoothly, you need easy and organized access to all of your files, whenever and wherever you require. That’s why so many businesses are looking toward cloud storage solutions.
Cloud storage is when your data is stored on remote servers accessed through the Internet (or “cloud”), rather than on physical servers in your building. These remote servers are operated and maintained by external cloud storage providers, instead of your own IT team.
Use of cloud services in general and cloud storage in particular have exploded over the past few years. For consumers, Dropbox, Google Drive, and iCloud are household names, but businesses aren’t far behind. A recent article from Forbes stated that 70% of organizations have at least one app in the cloud today, and data storage is expected to be a top motivator for cloud adoption in the coming years.
Why is cloud storage important, and what are the advantage for your business? Here are just a few reasons:
1. Access Your Files Anytime, Anywhere
“Business” is no longer confined to the four walls of your office building, or the hours between nine and five. Today, work happens at all times and in all places. In 2016, 43% of employed Americans said they spent time working remotely, and that number is continuing to increase. Meanwhile, more and more businesses are offering flexible work hours. It’s becoming such a trend that according to a recent survey, 63% of workers think the typical 8-hour workday will vanish.
Technologies like cloud storage enable businesses to survive in today’s fast-paced, hyper connected world. Because you access cloud storage through the Internet, you can reach your files anywhere you have an Internet connection (which is just about everywhere).
Suddenly, your sales person on-the-go can send out that client proposal while they’re travelling, in many cases all on their mobile phone. And when your employees need to work from home, they can be just as efficient as they are the office because they don’t have to worry about transferring files or working through a slow VPN connection. They love it, because flexible work options give them a better work/life balance. And happy, productive employees are great for you too.
2. Prevent Data Loss
Your business can’t survive without your data. A sobering study from Gartner revealed that when businesses suffer a major loss of company data, 43% immediately go out of business, and another 51% follow within the next 2 years. That leaves a meager 6% survival rate.
Every business should have a remote backup of their files. On-site backups alone won’t cut it, which is where cloud storage comes in. By backing up your data to the cloud, you’re eliminating the risk of losing everything to natural disasters like hurricanes, fires, tornadoes, and more. Just take a look at this story about a Texas-based accounting firm who survived Hurricane Harvey – I bet they love their cloud backup.
Even on a more mundane level, physical backups like tape drives will fail at some point, often without warning. Cloud storage puts the burden of maintaining hardware on the service provider, who typically has multiple forms of redundancy, so that you can be confident your data is protected.
Furthermore, employees themselves are often a major culprit when it comes to data loss. Maybe they accidentally deleted a file or downloaded a virus that infected your network. Or perhaps they copied data to their personal laptop that you can’t access. A good cloud storage solution will provide centralized data management, so all your files are in one place and easily accessible. They’ll also probably have version control, so you can roll back to earlier versions of files if something accidentally gets deleted or corrupted.
3. Save Money
Every business loves saving money, and cloud storage can offer cost-savings vs. physical storage in multiple ways.
First, you avoid the large capital expenditure of buying servers and physical hard drives. Cloud service providers typically charge on a monthly basis, and normally cost only a couple cents per gigabyte of data storage. With cloud storage, also you don’t have to worry about the time and energy to maintain physical hardware. Your service provider is responsible for ongoing maintenance and upkeep.
Keep in mind, however, that the price for cloud services does vary, depending on how much space you need, and what other features you’re looking for. Secure, encrypted storage to protect your sensitive business files is going to cost more than a consumer-level solution. Talk to an IT professional to find a solution at the right price point for your business.
4. Collaborate Better
Many cloud storage services include collaboration tools that can help your business operate more efficiently.
First, there’s file syncing. Often if you’re backing up information to the cloud, you have a copy of the file on your local device. File syncing makes sure that you’re always working on the most current file, regardless of what device you’re on.
Live collaboration is also an increasingly common feature, letting multiple users access the same file at the same time. Especially if you have a large remote workforce, this real-time collaboration lets your team work together like they would if they were in the same room.
Lastly, have you ever needed to send a file to a client, only to discover that it was too big to email? Cloud storage can solve that problem. They let you send files directly to clients in an easy-to-use link so you don’t explode their inboxes with enormous attachments.
Storing your files on the cloud can make some businesses a little hesitant. After all, you’re sending your data to another company, often very far away, and relying on them to keep your critical business files safe. But while cloud service providers aren’t infallible, they are generally more secure than most small businesses.
A reputable cloud storage provider will have multiple copies of your data for redundancy, often in different geographic locations. So it’s highly unlikely that they will lose your data. Furthermore, a large provider will invest heavily to secure and guard their server farm from both physical and cyber intrusion. For businesses that have more stringent security requirements or compliance needs, certain providers have advanced encryption that offers better protection than consumer-level solutions.
Bear in mind that no matter how good their security is, they can’t protect against poor security on your part. Make sure that you’re using secure passwords, browsing safely, and keeping your software and virus protection up-to-date.
Ready to Talk Cloud?
We’ve helped tons of small businesses move to the cloud and find solutions that are right for them. If you’re interested in cloud storage solutions for your business, reach us today, and our team of experts would be happy to sit down with you for a free consultation.