Have you ever tried to explain to someone what storing “in the cloud” means? Did you struggle to put it into accessible terms? Chances are you have heard about the cloud, and that it’s important, but you don’t know exactly what it’s all about. Don’t worry, we got you.
Simply put, cloud-based storage is an outsourced solution for storing data on Internet-connected servers rather than local hard drives. You store your files, spreadsheets, photos, and documents online and access them from anywhere.
Before cloud storage, everything from computer viruses to physical damage hampered the safety and accessibility of storing files on a hard drive. With cloud-based storage, files are both saved and accessed more easily. Originally cloud storage was primarily a personal solution, but many businesses are now moving toward cloud storage as the technology adapts and progresses toward meeting the needs of businesses. A 2015 study noted that, at the time, about half of small businesses had converted to cloud storage.
If you haven’t yet shifted to cloud-based storage for your small business, there is no better time than now! Here are the top five benefits of switching to the cloud:
Top 5 Benefits of Cloud Storage
1) Cost savings
The cost advantage of switching to the cloud is hard to beat. Cloud storage is often more affordable because providers distribute the cost of infrastructure and services across many businesses. Using the cloud eliminates hardware and maintenance costs like capital expenditures and service salaries. The easy accessibility of the cloud also increases productivity within your businesses, leading to small but meaningful savings in the long term.
2) Data reliability
Data is readily available when stored in the cloud and this reliability is an obvious advantage. Businesses that don’t store data on the cloud have to spend time and resources creating back-ups in case of emergency, as loss of important business data can have an extremely negative effect on both their business’s revenue and customer relationships. Cloud storage automatically backs up files in a remote location, and those backups are just as easily accessed as the originals. Vendors offer you data centers around the world and data replication strategies with no development efforts or infrastructure costs on your end.
Using the cloud increases flexibility for a small business, especially if you have employees working remotely or on the road. A cloud-based service is also ideal because as your needs increase with your growing company, you can scale up your cloud capacity and draw on remote servers. If you need to scale down for any reason, that option is also available. You have the freedom to share access to all or just some of your files with other users. With cloud storage, you don’t have the interruptions of data back-ups and other downtime to deal with technical needs; the automation simplifies your backups. All you have to do is select what files you want backed up, when you want them done, and the cloud environment manages the rest of the process seamlessly.
4) Advanced features
As with any tech-based service, the landscape of benefits is constantly upgrading and improving. With cloud storage, your options for new features, stronger security, and quicker access are constantly increasing. Particularly for small businesses who have to be mindful of budget, there are features that are both cost-effective and efficient. One example is placing data that is infrequently accessed in a cheaper, long-term backup solution. Cloud servers back up data across multiple redundant servers in many remote locations regardless of the size of business, so even small business owners can rest assured that their data is receiving the same safety measures and services as global companies.
5) Unlimited Storage
Most cloud storage companies offer free or low-cost unlimited storage. This is exactly the benefit you need to support your business. The more you grow your company, the more storage you will need for an ever-increasing volume of files, data, and documents. Using a physical drive gives you finite space and more money spent every time you need to add new hard drives. With unlimited storage, you have the freedom of knowing that there are no limits. And if you do select a limited cloud storage plan, it will probably be more spacious than what is available on a hard drive, and purchasing more space if needed is still more cost effective than a hard drive model.
Cloud Storage Downsides
We’ve talked about all the benefits that cloud storage has to offer, but there are a few negatives that need to be weighed out as you decide if cloud storage is right for you.
There are concerns about storing valuable data remotely and you do need to be aware of the risks of allowing third-party cloud service providers to access your sensitive business information. There is also the vulnerability of external hacking. The internet is not completely secure and your existing storage management system may not be fully compatible or integrate well with a new cloud vendor when it comes to transferring your data. But choosing a reliable, trustworthy service provider will keep your information secure.
Sometimes there may be a bandwidth allowance, depending on the service you choose, and that can come with some costly surcharges if you exceed it. And while cloud computing is very cost effective now compared to the alternative, costs may increase and will eventually add up if you don’t keep an eye on your usage. This lifetime cost, especially if you aren’t able to manage it correctly, is something that can’t be fully measured but you should keep in mind.
There are also some industries that have a certain level of regulation that may not let you work within the cloud or require strict adherence to remote data rules and regulations. Industries such as healthcare, financial services, and publicly traded companies have to be especially careful when considering switching to the cloud.
Another issue with using cloud storage is the difficulty of transferring data between cloud vendors. It is important to do your research and take the time to decide what company will best serve your unique needs, because it can be very difficult and costly to transfer data to a new provider if you are unhappy with your first choice.
Overall, cloud storage is still the best option in terms of cost-benefit, security, and efficiency for companies. There are so many options available that you can be sure to find the perfect fit for your small business storage needs.
If you are ready to make the jump and transfer your data into the cloud, TechMasters can make it a smooth and easy process.
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