How do you manage, store, and secure your data?
For most businesses, data storage in 2019 takes place in the cloud – where content is both easily accessible and secure for a global workforce.
So, if you don’t have a cloud-based data storage strategy is it time to move your data to the cloud?
The cloud is a blanket term for a data storage strategy that sends copies of your work to an online network, typically hosted by a third party. Cloud servers pride themselves on providing a product that makes data storage easier and more accessible for businesses.
But is it actually easier? Is cloud storage the best option available for you and your business?
To help you figure that out, I’ll run through a list of the pros and cons of cloud storage. As a word of caution, many of these pros and cons will come with, “But, wait…” clauses – the advantages and disadvantages of cloud-based storage are not black and white, and each issue can have some upside, as well as a downside.
Let’s jump in.
Before deciding to move your business to the cloud, consider some of the pros and cons of doing so.
One of the aspects of the cloud that practically defines the word “convenient” is the ability to access your data from just about anywhere that has an internet connection. In the modern working world, applications that businesses use for cloud storage are normally able to sync to multiple devices, further increasing the convenience of retrieving your data from nearly any location, or just about any device.
The downside to this is outages. Sometimes, wherever you are, the internet will be unavailable. This could happen anywhere for a myriad of reasons, and while it is relatively unlikely, internet connection is something that varies by time and place and is very much out of the control of most businesses.
Some cloud storage providers, like Dropbox, offer offline sync and access, where the user can choose to make files available when you’re away from Wi-fi. Your work will simply update across all devices once you get back online.
Outages can also come straight from the cloud server itself. If the services of the software are unavailable, your data will be as well.
Con: Regulatory Compliance
Not every business is the perfect fit for using cloud storage. Industries or businesses that are heavily regulated, like financial industries and publicly traded companies, or the healthcare industry, may find obstacles in trying to use a public cloud space.
Regulations can cause problems for these types of businesses when they want to store their data with a third party, as is the case with most cloud servers.
As with any major business decision, there will be short term and long term costs. Be sure you are aware of this upfront so that you can make your decision accordingly.
Pro: Low Initial Cost
The cost of using a cloud server is typically low, to begin with, with many services even offering free trials lasting a limited time.
The cost of storage is something for all businesses to consider, and optimizing storage requires considering multiple options to find the best fit for each individual business. One of the most important factors in deciding a storage fit is evaluating how much storage is needed.
One of the benefits of using the cloud is that you are able to pay for the storage you need, so you don’t have to pay for storage space that you don’t use. Cloud servers also allow you to increase your storage as needed for incremental costs.
Con: Long-Term Costs
While only needing small payments to get started with a cloud-based server is a plus, over time, these costs will add up. Take leasing a car as an example. The payments at first are small and convenient, but with increased costs for increased performance, and upgrades when more storage is needed, costs will increase.
For many companies, the cost is worth the additional benefits, like having all your past files backed up and accessible without having to replace anything. That being said, it is important for companies to weigh the economic differences and choose what is right for them.
Pro: Everything Is Backed Up
The cloud essentially works as the ultimate backup plan for file storage. Uploading a file to the cloud creates a copy of it, stored separately from the original. If any of your original files are corrupted, deleted, or otherwise wiped out, the cloud can ensure that it is nothing more than a minor hitch in day to day operations.
The cloud turns a possible calamity into nothing more than taking an extra minute to download a copy of an important file that you stored in the cloud.
Security in cloud storage can be seen as a pro or a con, depending on who you ask, and how you look at it.
Many see issues with security, especially for keeping valuable or private data confidential. Precautions should always be taken when managing permissions for files, allowing third-party vendors to access files, or moving data on public Wifi networks.
Additionally, users should always educate themselves to find the best cloud storage solution that is committed to protecting their information.
When deciding whether to move your business’ storage to the cloud, consider both the pros and cons of speed.
Speed is extremely important for businesses and making sure all operations are running quickly and smoothly is high on the list of priorities. A test conducted by digital media company Mediatronics found that when cloud services are supported by the right technology, speeds can rival those of on-site storage.
Transferring data to or from a cloud service can run just about at the same speed as backing up data onto a disk or other remote storage device.
What? Wasn’t speed just listed as a pro of cloud storage? It was, but there is a caveat.
Although most cloud services have been found to operate at a level rivaling other forms of data storage, they run into a problem with bandwidth, or the capacity for the amount of data they are able to process at a given time. This can happen to cloud services when they are overcrowded, and the heavy traffic can lead to slow upload and download speeds for your cloud data.
Pro: Storage Immortality
Storage immortality is part of an emerging set of ideas revolving around information being able to live forever digitally. While this sounds broad and borderline philosophical, its application to data storage is very simple.
With the cloud, the data storage system will not become obsolete.
For years, businesses upgraded storage systems as older devices faded into the past. Most recently, hard disk drives (HDD), flash storage, and solid-state disks (SSD) were the technologies used by most businesses for their storage.
But, like in many other areas, new technologies came along that were more efficient and just better for the demands of a new time. As cloud-based storage has only been growing in popularity, it is hard not to see it taking over the majority of data storage. And being digitally based, the cloud is unlikely to become obsolete any time soon.
Con: Data Management
Continued efficiency for a business is a priority when introducing a new element. And merging existing data storage systems with a cloud system, or converting entirely, can be difficult at first. It is important to find a cloud server that can be integrated smoothly into the existing structures for data storage.
For businesses with especially complex storage needs, cloud services may not provide the level of customization needed for it to be an efficient option.
One benefit of cloud-based storage that is demonstrated when compared with remote data storage is the ability to share work. External storage adds steps to the process of sharing data that sap efficiency.
Cloud-based storage systems are often designed with content collaboration in mind, and in this way, are built to help people work together on projects – an increasingly important facet of business.
Rather than having to find a way to convert and send large files, already a difficult process, having the files online usually allows for the easy transfer, and subsequent download, of files, compressing the process of transferring data into a few easy steps.
Are you ready to move your data to the cloud? What’s holding you back?
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for Dropbox. All opinions are my own. Dropbox is not affiliated with nor endorses any other products or services mentioned.