Storing your files on a local hard drive alone is fast becoming a thing of the past. An estimated 85% of businesses worldwide are making use of cloud storage. It may be time for your company to pick one of the best cloud storage services available and join the cloud.
Some people still have reservations and questions about small business cloud solutions, such as: how secure will the files be? How costly is the process? Many of these concerns are unfounded, however, and cloud services should be a priority for any small business. In this article, we explore eight reasons that small business cloud storage solutions could work for you and your company.
1. Anywhere access
With many people now working from home, businesses are less focused around one central office. It would be impractical for every employee to have a hard drive containing all the company’s files. With the business’s documents on a cloud server, you and your employees can access them from anywhere, which makes remote working much easier.
It’s also possible to access them from a variety of devices—not just desktop and laptop computers, but cell phones and tablets too, over either Wi-Fi or mobile data. This means you can access your files on the go, such as on a train or at a lunch meeting.
2. Usability of interfaces
Some people are concerned that cloud storage systems may be complicated to use compared to the simple task of storing files on a computer’s hard drive. However, most popular cloud storage services are well designed to make it easy and intuitive to get started. They often have interfaces designed to be similar to desktop file managers, so new users will find its operation familiar.
With some options, such as Google Drive and Dropbox, you have the choice of accessing the folder structure via a web browser or downloading an app that integrates the cloud folders into your existing file manager. There are also mobile apps available, which make it easy to organize and access your files on the go.
If you want to find out more, read our feature asking what is cloud storage?, which outlines how it works and why your business can benefit. You can also see our guide on how to choose the best cloud storage for your small business.
3. File-sharing options
Besides giving multiple users access to all your files, many cloud storage providers make it possible to set different privacy levels on different folders and files, so you can precisely manage who can access what. This is usually a simple matter of selecting a file or folder in your cloud service app and clicking on an option to adjust the privacy settings.
For example, if you want to give your employees access to all the company’s files except one folder restricted to management, you can. Or, you can give each team within the company their own folder, which only they can access. You can even make individual files publicly accessible or grant access to specific people outside the company, all from within your cloud server.
Read our guide to the best file sharing apps to learn more about the leading services offering secure file sharing.
4. Multi-user collaboration
With local hard drive-based file storage, having two users open a file at the same time can cause serious problems. Either the system simply won’t allow it, or the users risk overwriting each other’s changes. But with cloud storage, it’s possible for multiple users to not only see but also edit the same file in real time, even if they’re in different parts of the world.
This can be useful in many situations, such as when multiple people need to work together to write a report or when a company’s entire sales team needs to modify a spreadsheet to log their clients. Most services keep track of who has made what changes.
5. Time-saving synchronization
One thing that can slow down your work processes when using hard drive-based storage is the time taken to copy files over to the device that you need them on. With cloud storage solutions, you can synchronize your files across devices, which significantly reduces such delays.
With your device connected to your cloud server, you can immediately access any new or updated files over an internet connection. You can even set it to automatically download files, so you can access them when you’re not connected to the internet. You can choose which files and folders you want to be accessible offline, in order to avoid using up too much space on your device.
Our guide to the best file syncing solutions earmarks our top providers of file syncing services within the cloud space.
You may be worried that by putting your files in the care of an outside company, you’re making them accessible to hackers. But in fact, cloud service providers take security quite seriously, and the data that you’ve stored in a secure cloud system is probably safer from cybertheft than what’s stored on your local hard drive.
Many services will securely encrypt your files when you upload them, as well as store them behind a sturdy firewall, consistently apply security updates, and even use AI to locate vulnerabilities in the system. When seeking a cloud service provider, make sure to pick one with strong security. It’s also worth turning on two-factor authentication, which most services offer, as an extra layer of protection.
7. Safety from disasters
It’s not just hackers that you might be worried about: what about accidental data loss? Some level of technical failure is inevitable in any system, and if the drive containing your files is damaged, the data loss can be disastrous. Again, cloud storage is the safer option compared to a local hard drive.
Most cloud service providers practice what’s called redundancy: they make several copies of your data, which are stored not only on different drives but also in multiple data centers in various geographical locations. So, even if one data center suffers from a power outage or a natural disaster, your data will still be safe elsewhere.
We explore this area of cloud services in more detail in our 5 top tips for businesses in data backup and recovery.
8. Cost efficiency
One concern of committing to cloud storage is that the subscription fee will build up over time, which can be expensive compared to the one-off cost of buying a hard drive. However, many services offer affordable lower-cost options that are suitable for most small businesses.
The pricing structures are often scalable, so you can start on your provider’s cheaper option, and if your business grows to the point that you need more storage, it just takes a few clicks to upgrade to a larger plan, without any change in hardware required. Also, there are no additional maintenance costs, so cloud storage can be quite cost-effective, especially when you consider all the additional advantages that it has over local storage.
For small businesses, there are many benefits to using cloud storage: it enables you to access your files wherever you are, you can manage whom they’re shared with, and multiple users can edit them. Contrary to the concerns that many people have, it’s also a secure, safe, and cost-efficient option.
If you are ready to start uploading your files to the cloud, check out our guide on how to choose a cloud storage and backup provider, and our feature outlining why cloud computing is perfect for small businesses.