Using cloud-based file storage has become increasingly popular for many companies. So much so that it’s hard to imagine modern business without it. There are three main reasons to use cloud storage for business:
- To extend the storage capacity of your local server.
- To facilitate file sharing and enable collaborative projects between employees in different locations.
- To create an external backup of your local files.
There are many cloud storage providers on the market today, and before you choose one of them, you should think hard about what your needs are. While some companies offer just storage in the cloud (e.g. Dropbox), others (such as Google Drive) offer tools to edit or create files in the cloud.
Pricing of cloud storage also varies widely, so once you have decided what your needs are, thoroughly research all providers to find the best solution for your company.
Using the cloud for external file storage and remote access
If you want to use the cloud to store your files externally, you should look for ease of use when choosing a provider. Essentially, cloud storage is meant to work as an extension of your local network.
In other words, employees should be able to use the cloud storage as if it’s an external hard drive attached to a local computer. And this connection should be easy to set up from different devices.
If one of your employees is working remotely, it’s important that they can get access to your cloud storage from their PC, tablet, or smart phone. It’s pointless to have a service that doesn’t provide full access to remote staff.
Many cloud storage services provide an app that can be used on mobile devices, and it’s important to check which devices are supported, and what functionalities are provided by the app.
Another feature to look for is automated vs. on-demand sync of local files with the cloud storage. You want this to be as simple as possible, to keep all files up to date on a regular basis.
Using the cloud for collaborative file editing
Cloud collaboration offers many benefits for modern businesses in a globalized world. For example, organization of files is improved, since the whole company uses the same centralized method for storing and organizing data.
In addition, cloud collaboration can provide real-time updates for all team members, as well as the ability to work on large files that cannot be sent as email attachments.
Here are 3 tips for successful cloud collaboration:
- Set up a collaboration process
Design a process for how files should be stored and edited, and train your team to follow this process. It’s no use having a centralized process if your employees don’t follow it.
- Set up real-time communication
Use a chat app of your choice to set up real-time communication between team members. Easy and fast communication is essential for cloud collaboration.
- Define a workflow
Allocate specific tasks to different team members and coordinate these tasks with each other within the larger workflow. Adjust the tasks and the workflow as the project unfolds.
In addition, also look for the following features in your cloud provider: is locking of files possible (to prevent inappropriate editing and version conflicts), and is there an option to recover previous versions of files? Finally, you also want to be able to work on very large files in the cloud (bigger than 20-30 GB).
Using the cloud for data backup
The cloud offers an excellent option for backing up your local files. If you intend to use cloud services for this purpose, look for the ability to automate a regular backup process, as well as the ability to retrieve and restore your data easily if the need should arise.
But always remember that cloud storage is not fail safe either, so you’ll need to have at least one other external backup strategy in place.
Data security in the cloud
If you don’t want third parties to get access to your files in the cloud, make sure that they are encrypted by your cloud storage provider. Also, encrypt your files before uploading, and transfer them via SSL.
Some counties have laws that permit your data to be accessed in the cloud under certain circumstances. You need to be aware of this possibility, and decide whether to store sensitive information in the cloud or not.
In addition, you may want to make some of your data in the cloud accessible to specific team members, but not to others. In that case, make sure you choose a cloud service that provides this functionality, as many of them don’t.
Finally, you should consider giving your staff some cybersecurity training, to help them understand the risks involved in sharing data via the cloud.
Cloud storage and cloud collaboration undoubtedly provide great benefits to your business. But make sure that you understand your needs correctly first, and then choose an appropriate cloud service, and train your staff how you want them to use it correctly.