Any small business knows that it can be a balancing act keeping your data safe and at the same time easily accessible. No one likes searching through file after file, backup after backup, just to find the right document—but losing your files to a crash is even worse. Backing up data can also be expensive, as the cost of thumb drives, CDs, portable hard-drives and other external storage options can pile up over time. And if you need to share files across multiple devices? Forget it!
But managing your data doesn’t have to be a hassle. Using cloud technology can be a great way to bypass many of the aches and pains of running a small business by helping you keep all of your data in a safe, accessible, and easily shared on-line space.
What is "the cloud?"
To understand how the cloud can best serve you and your business, it’s important to first understand what the cloud is and isn’t.
The cloud is:
- A way to store electronic files and data on the web.
- Remotely accessible from Remotely accessible from your laptop, phone, tablet, or any other internet-capable device.
- Capable of protecting and maintaining your data in the event of computer problems.
The cloud is not:
- Entirely on-line; while you can access your files from the web, your files are actually hosted from an offsite data center. These data centers can house numerous servers, sometimes enough to fill a warehouse.
- Accessible offline. Unlike a USB or portable hard-drive, you cannot simply plug a device with your data files into your computer-- the files are hosted from the data center, and you won’t be able to reach them without an internet connection.
- Infallible. Though companies offering cloud hosting go to great lengths to protect your files, utilizing encryption to protect your data from hackers and redundancy protocols to protect your files in case of physical damage to the data servers, accidents can happen.
How does the cloud work?
The cloud works most often by the cloud-hosting company providing you, the user, with a private account. This means that you will register or receive a unique username and password to access your files. Only you and those who you trust with your account information will be able to access your files. You can then choose files from your computer to upload to the cloud. These files will be physically hosted at the company’s data center, often on multiple machines to prevent losing files should one machine fail (this is called redundancy). Once they have been uploaded to the cloud, you can access your files by simply logging into your account and choosing the files you wish to open. Often, companies will allow you to edit files directly in your browser, as well as give you the opportunity to let others view or even edit specific files that you choose to share. Some companies will enforce a data limit to your account, meaning that you can only host up to a certain amount of data on the cloud without paying for more space.
What are some examples of cloud storage?
The truth is, cloud storage has become so convenient and so popular, you may already be using it and not know. Do you use Google, Comcast, or Yahoo! Mail? Then you are already used to working with cloud storage! Many email services host your emails remotely on their own servers and allow you to access those files on-line through your account—that’s how easy it is! On-line file sharing such as Google Docs and Dropbox are also examples of cloud technology.
How will cloud storage services help my small business?
If you need to protect important data from a possible crash and don’t want to invest in external memory storage for your company, the cloud might be the preferable option. By uploading important files, you can keep them safe from viruses or a crash, and save space and money on external memory.
If you have an internet-capable phone or tablet, the cloud will also allow you to access, view, and even edit your files on these other devices.
The cloud can also be very useful if you need to share files between co-workers, or want to allow multiple people to work on the same file. Without the cloud, you would have to send copies of your file to multiple people who might lose it, overwrite it, or be unable to see changes made to the file by other workers. With the cloud, you can simply provide them all with a URL link to where the file is hosted on-line, and, by allowing your co-workers or clients certain viewing or editing privileges, everyone with a link will be able to see or even edit a file in real-time. No more constant re-sending of updated versions of a file, all the changes are right there on-line!
Interested in setting up your own office network or storage server? BuzzAGeek has all the technical expertise to help you create a small home office with attached network storage and having it backed up with cloud technology. Get easy access to your files with guaranteed crash protection!