Cloud storage keeps your business's files, photos and documentation safe and accessible anywhere, anytime - right at your fingertips. But, with many providers to choose from, how do you know which one is the right one for you?
Industry analysts estimate there are more than 70 different cloud-based file services today, though this number actually underestimates the real size of the bandwagon. Since each service comes with a unique feature set, deciding on the right one requires mapping business needs and evaluating different providers in technical functionality and in terms of capacity.
To keep you focused as you decide which cloud storage solution fits best, first determine important points such as how much space your business needs, what features are must have, and any other special needs your business has. With this information, proceed to making a decision based on the below criteria.
Security & File Encryption
Security is a top concern when you decide to migrate your business to the cloud. Your business files, including photo documentation, could be compromised if the service you use lacks security features. To prevent this, make sure that the service encrypts your documentation at least once before it leaves your servers. Also, consider using passwords to protect files, especially when using a mobile device to access them, as well as the capability to set different levels of access for different employees.
Storage Capacity at a Fair Price
Storage needs are unique to every business. Small businesses are most likely looking at a solution that can accommodate files from up to 10 employees, with additional space at a reasonable price. The pricing scheme should be pay-as-you go, with the ability to add capacity and services as needed. To ensure that you are choosing a flexible cloud provider, find out what additional storage capacity and other features can be offered over time and for what price. If you plan to grow your team, you will want to make sure that you can easily add users to your account.
Reliable Customer Support
Technical issues are no joke when it comes to business. Blocked access to important files when they're needed could seriously cost you time and money. The best services have a support team available to help 24/7 via email and phone, while some services also offer live text chat.
Cloud storage services with this feature will update your files to reflect edits - in real time! Automatic syncing allows you to relax knowing that all files are set and always up-to-date.
Cloud storage services that support file versioning let users edit free from worries. This means it saves all file versions so retrieving a specific one later is simple as one click on the icon.
Viewing & Editing Directly from the Cloud
Transferring photos and documentation from device to device is time consuming and inefficient, so this feature is important when it comes to business cloud storage solutions. Make sure to double-check before you get started - some services may require you to download a file to your hard drive and then re-upload it to the cloud once you're done editing. That could seriously hamper your productivity if you are working in the field.
The best cloud storage services let users share files with other authorized users in the team - on any device in many ways, including direct sharing links and e-mail.
The cloud computing market is moving from early-adopter push toward solving real business problems for enterprises and government agencies. In 2012, Gartner surveyed 556 organizations across multiple industries where cloud planning is a critical issue, and the results on cloud computing showed that 19 percent of organizations were using it for most of production computing, and 20 percent of organizations were using storage as a service for all, or most, storage requirements. Cloud services now have millions of registered users spanning over 100,000s businesses and cover all of the Fortune 500 companies, according to Forrester Research.
Which service you choose is going to depend on your business needs, but more so the needs of your data. Consider picking a service that can grow with your company well into the future.