What is Cloud Storage?
Cloud Storage technology stores digital data on third-party machines or servers. When we use our PC, we can save our data on a hard drive, burn it to a CD, or put it on a USB drive. All of these mediums are local. If the medium is damaged, our data will be lost forever. A regular backup can create data redundancy, but it is an involved and time-consuming process. Remote storage technologies on the Cloud provide a solution to this potential threat of data loss. A third party creates a storage space system and takes care of all maintenance issues. We can buy the amount of space we need from this third parties and store our data on their servers through the internet.
The term “Cloud” comes from an engineering practice. When engineers draw a network map, they generally draw a cloud around the area whose specifics are not important to the current design. The cloud can be a single computer or a collection of thousands of computers. On the network map, the cloud represents those machines. So, the term "storing on the cloud" basically means "saving data on remote computers". As a customer, we are only interested in our own data. The cloud storage provider is responsible for the data storage and maintenance process.
Benefits and Risks of Small Business Cloud Storage
Corporations can afford the extra hardware and computer support necessary to maintain a system that provides data accessibility, security, and reliability. Getting that kind of managed IT services can be expensive for a small business. So, a cloud solution seems like an affordable and reasonable choice. However, small businesses need to understand the benefits and risks before handing over their data storage to a third party.
- Businesses operate across the world today. Cloud services give us access to our data from any corner of the world. It has eliminated the need for carrying storage devices with us.
- Third parties who create these services have the expertise to implement features that are too expensive or time-consuming for a small business to do.
- Sharing files through email can be taxing to the LAN or Local Network bandwidth. Companies that share large files like images or videos can save a lot of time and money through the use of efficient cloud services.
- Host companies take responsibility for data protection and other managed IT services. So, small business owners have fewer things to worry about.
- Creating our own data sharing network is expensive. It needs IT support, technical know-how, and regular maintenance. Cloud services eliminate that need.
- We need to understand the service we are using. For example, if we delete a file from our local PC, we might be also deleting the file on our Mac automatically. Generally, cloud services have failsafe processes, but it may not be available for the services we are paying for.
- Cloud services might have limits on the bandwidth. We might accrue additional costs if we go over the agreed limits.
- Some services don’t store anything locally. Without the Internet, we might not have access to our own data.
- Big companies sometimes avoid storing data on the cloud because of privacy and safety issues. We might want to evaluate the sensitivity of our data. If we are storing our payroll, we might want a service that has good encryption mechanisms in place.
- Each service comes with its own interface software. If we use multiple devices, we will have to download the software and regularly update. It can be time-consuming. For large teams, we might have to hire computer support specialists.
Small Business Cloud Storage Solutions
Here are some companies that are at the forefront of storage technology.
Acronis True Image Online
Capacity and Pricing: Subscription costs $5-$6 per month for 250GB of space. More space can be added with other subscription models.
What it’s for: Data protection, disaster recovery, and storage management.
About: Acronis offers safe, cost-effective, and easy to use solutions for data protection and secure file sharing. It supports on-site and off-site endpoints. It can recover and restore systems across different hardware platforms.
Capacity and Pricing: Business plans starts at $7/month for 200GB of storage space.
What it’s for: Simple and secure file sharing.
About: ADrive cloud provides a safe place for our data. It has SSL encryption for their business plans. We can update our cloud files directly from the folder on our computer.
Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3)
Capacity and Pricing: Free for 5GB of storage with up to 15GB of data transfer. We are only charged for our data usage. There is no subscription fee.
What it’s for: Highly scalable, reliable, and low-latency data storage.
About: Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) provides small businesses access to their highly-scalable storage system. We can use the simple web service interface to access our information fast from anywhere on the web.
Capacity and Pricing: A 60-day trial offers 5GB storage for 3-device access. Paid account starts at $10 per month for 1 TB of storage for 5-device access.
What it’s for: Virtual Drive.
About: Bitcasa’s approach is to create a virtual drive on the cloud. It has a robust encryption system to ensure security for customer files. Analytics dashboard provides predictive information about data use.
Capacity and Pricing: Free accounts are limited to one user. Starter plan is $5/user/month with 100 GB secure storage. A business plan is $15/user/month with unlimited storage. Both paid plans require minimum 3-user subscription.
What it’s for: File sharing and content management.
About: Box gives us a solution to securely share large files using simple links and access-controlled URL. It comes with version control. Box’s content management systems use metadata templates. It decreases our IT dependency and saves money on managed IT services.
Capacity and Pricing: Paid plan starts at $59/year for unlimited storage.
What it’s for: Data protection and recovery.
About: Carbonite focuses on keeping our files safe in the cloud. It automatically saves our data and provides easy recovery through their custom restore wizard. Files are transmitted with 128-bit Blowfish encryption. Carbonite offers free premium customer support via phone, chat, or email.
Capacity and Pricing: Syncing to other local computers and external drives are free. Paid plan is $5.99/month for 1 computer and $13.99/month for 2-10 computers. Unlimited storage.
What it’s for: Data protection and recovery.
About: Crashplan protects our digital life. Even when we are away from our computer, CrashPlan is backing up. Its three destination protection (local drive, local server, and the cloud) gives us multiple access points to our backed up data. Private-key 448-bit file encryption provides robust security.
Capacity and Pricing: Free account provides 2GB storage. Paid plan is $8.25/user/month with 1 TB space. Business plans can be purchased for $12.50/user/month with extensive collaborative and admin tools.
What it’s for: Secure file sharing and storage solution.
About: Dropbox is at the forefront of the online storage revolution. We can use the Dropbox app or web portal to store and share files. It has comprehensive coverage across desktops, tablets, and smartphones.
Capacity and Pricing: Paid plan starts at $8/user/month for 5TB storage. Minimum 5 users.
What it’s for: Content collaboration and governance.
About: Egnyte provides a hybrid solution for small businesses worried about data security. Highly sensitive data can be stored on-premise machines while storing other sets of data on the public cloud.
Capacity and Pricing: Free up to 15GB. Paid plans starts at 100GB for $1.99/month and 1TB for $9.99/month.
What it’s for: File storage and real-time collaboration.
About: Google Drive is a service that was created with team collaboration in mind. Besides uploading local files, it is possible to create and edit word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation documents. Files can be accessed through the web or a software client.
Hightail (Formerly YouSendIt)
Capacity and Pricing: Paid plans start at $15/user/month with unlimited space.
What it’s for: File sharing in a team environment.
About: Hightail creates shared spaces for creative collaboration. Teams can share comments and control access to files. It also provides integration with other storage solutions like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive.
Capacity and Pricing: Free up to 5GB. Single user paid plan starts at $52.12/year with 1TB storage. Business plans are $74.62/year for 250GB.
What it’s for: Device data protection.
About: IDrive saves data from our PCs, Macs,iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. It has a web-based central control. A 256-bit AES encryption is used for security.
Capacity and Pricing: Free account has 1GB storage. The 75GB storage plan starts at $10.69/month.
What it’s for: Secure and automated file storage.
About: JustCloud provides secure online storage with ease and speed. It automatically backs up photos, files, and documents using pre-set schedules.
Capacity and Pricing: Business express plan starts at $50/month with 3 users and 2TB storage, and the standard plan starts at $160/month with 10 users and 10TB storage.
What it’s for: Backup and data-sync.
About: Livedrive works in the background to sync local files to the cloud. It behaves like a shared network drive.
Capacity and Pricing: Free for 5GB storage. Paid business plan starts at $5.00/user/month with 1TB storage space.
What it’s for: Online file storage.
About: OneDrive is a Microsoft product, so it has seamless integration with MS Office. OneDrive also has clients for iOS and Android platforms.
Capacity and Pricing: MozyPro plan starts at $13.98/month for 10GB storage.
What it’s for: Data protection.
About: Mozy is a Dell subsidiary. MozyPro ensures that small businesses are protected against data loss. Mozy Tritanium Cloud syncs data and protects it with military grade encryption.
Capacity and Pricing: Free 5GB storage. The unlimited plan starts at $9.95/month for a single user. Business plans are tier based depending on service packs.
What it’s for: Storage, protection, and content management.
About: OpenDrive provides a comprehensive content management solution. Clients like T-mobile and Office Depot use OpenDrive.
SOS Online Backup
Capacity and Pricing: Paid business plan starts at $29.99/month with unlimited storage.
What it’s for: Data protection.
About: SOS is an expert in backing up devices. It maintains version history. Triple-layer 256-bit encryption secures data.
Capacity and Pricing: SpiderOaks offers 100GB for $5/month, 250GB for $9/month, and 1TB for $12/month.
What it’s for: Encrypted chat, file sharing, and backups for high-quality security.
About: SpiderOak’s sharing service concentrates on security. It implements “zero-knowledge” privacy environment where only the clients can access the data. It supports Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android, and iOS devices.
Capacity and Pricing: Individual plan starts at $9.99/month for 250GB. Business plan starts at $55/month for 1TB storage and 1-3 users.
What it’s for: Folder syncing across platforms.
About: SugarSync syncs our existing folder structure to the cloud. It provides real-time syncing which allows teams to work effectively together.
Capacity and Pricing: Pro 75GB plan is $10.69/month, Premium 250GB plan is $11.94/month, and Ultimate 1TB plan is $14.44/month. Discounts are available for yearly subscriptions.
What it’s for: Backs up and stores files.
About: Zipcloud is a simple solution for saving and syncing files across platforms. It provides scheduled backups. Zipcloud also comes with 24/7 IT support.
Capacity and Pricing: Plan starts at $30/month for 1TB storage.
What it’s for: Data storage solution.
About: Zoolz uses artificial intelligence (AI) to organize and protect data. The AI system solves the problem of data overload.