Everything is moving to the Cloud. You’ve heard it said, read about it, maybe even thought about trying it out. Point is though, you know about the Cloud. You understand how it works and what it could mean for your business. And if you don’t we have some great blog posts that you should read (start with this one). So now the question is, how do you get there?
There are many different aspects to moving a business to the cloud- email, cloud-based services, etc. One of the big ones is a cloud file storage and sharing program. By using a cloud file storage program, you can have access to all of your important documents anytime, from anywhere. And, you don’t need to remotely connect to your work computer or your office network to gain access. Problem is, there are so many choices out there- how do you know which one is right for you?
We’ve put together this list of the top cloud file storage programs to help you determine which one fits your companies needs and budget.
You have undoubtedly heard of Dropbox by now. One of the most popular and widely-used cloud file storage programs, it is usually the first one people turn to. Why? Well, mostly because it’s free- at least, it’s free up to a certain amount of storage space. But even if you need to upgrade to more space, it is incredibly inexpensive in comparison to other programs. It is also very easy to use. You can create an account and share files with others, and it is so easy to set up, you won’t even need the help of your IT support.
Dropbox is also mobile. It has apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, etc. This makes it very easy to take your office mobile and allow your employees to telework.
Be careful though, there are some drawbacks to Dropbox, the main one being security. You may have heard about how Dropbox was hacked last year- leading to a critical look at there security measures. While accounts are password protected (so make sure you know how to create a secure password) the truth is that Dropbox is not going to be as secure as other programs. While it might work well for sharing silly pictures with family, or recipes with friends, when it comes to protecting sensitive client information, you are better off paying more and going with a more secure cloud file storage program.
iCloud is Apple’s own personal cloud file storage program- but it does a lot more than just store certain documents. When you set up an iCloud account, you are syncing everything across all your devices: music, photos, videos, apps, email, documents, etc. will automatically update on every single Mac device you have. That means if you go on a business trip and only take your iPad and your phone, when you get home you won’t have to spend time updating anything on your laptop. It will have already happened.
iCloud is free for Mac users and comes with 5GB of free storage space, which goes a long way because of the way Apple stores your information. It also comes with it’s own backup in the Cloud, which means that when it is time for you to get a new device, you won’t have to re-purchase anything or adjust any settings. This will all happen automatically with your synced backups. And, iCloud has a lot of safety and security measures in place to help make sure all your information is secure. If you’re interested in learning more about how iCloud works and the different ways to use it, click here.
Drawbacks to iCloud? First, it is made for Apple devices. So, if you don’t use all Apple devices, iCloud is not for you. Second, It is not really meant for business use, so it is not easy to share documents directly from the cloud. If more than one person needed to edit a document or some data, it would have to be emailed back and forth. And third- security. While Apple does go to great lengths to protect your iCloud account, it still isn’t the place you want to store sensitive client information.
SkyDrive is Microsoft’s answer to iCloud, and I have to say, they really took it a step further. Not only does SkyDrive have almost all the same features as iCloud- storing files, music, photos, syncing across all devices, etc.- SkyDrive has stepped it up to include even more.
First, SkyDrive comes with 7GB of free storage space, and while this is more than iCloud offers, it should be pointed out that it might get used up faster because SkyDrive encompasses more and doesn’t store your data the same way as iCloud. Next, SkyDrive works across any devices- Microsoft and Apple. Yup, if you use a PC running Windows 7 at work but have an iPhone, SkyDrive will work on all of those devices- all you need to do is download the app. And finally, since it’s a Microsoft product, it works seamlessly with both the cloud version of Microsoft Office that comes bundled with SkyDrive, and the full version. And, SkyDrive makes it possible to easily share data across multiple users and allows customization of permissions. That means that you can control who sees what documents, and more than one person can see and edit data at the same time. To learn more about how SkyDrive works, what it can offer, and how it stacks up against iCloud, click here.
Drawbacks? With SkyDrive the main one is security. Microsoft does have security measures in place to help protect your information, but the simple truth is that it is just not going to be quite as secure as a more expensive cloud file storage program that is designed exclusively for businesses. If you are a small company, maybe just starting out, and you don’t handle sensitive information for your clients that needs to be heavily protected, SkyDrive should work fine. But as your business grows, I would recommend upgrading to a more secure cloud file storage program that is designed especially for businesses.
Ok, I’ve been repeating myself a lot in this blog post. I keep talking about “using a more secure file storage program for managing sensitive client information” and I know you all must be thinking “When is she going to tell us which one that is?” So here it is- Egnyte.
There are a number of great cloud file storage and sharing programs out there that are designed for businesses, but I’ve chosen to recommend Egnyte for a very simple reason- this is the one we use at Network Depot.
Egnyte was designed as an enterprise-level cloud file program for organizations. With Egnyte, you have the ability to work across multiple devices, no matter the operating system. It will work on PCs, Macs, iPhone, tablets, etc. For example, while I am in the office I simply work as normal, making sure to save everything to my shared drives. When I am home, I can pull up my shared files by going to a certain web address, edit them, and save them back to the shared files online. I also have the Egnyte app on my iPhone and iPad, so I can access the files without a computer.
It is also a very customizable program. You can not only set permissions on what your employees are allowed to access, but you can set it up so that your clients are allowed to access certain files as well. This makes sharing information much easier and helps cut down on commmunication misunderstandings.
Finally, security. Egnyte is a very secure system because it was designed for businesses, so it has the security in place to handle sensitive client information.
The only drawback to Egnyte is the price. It isn’t a cheap product, but if you are looking for a secure, easy-to-use, customizable program that will grow as you grow and help take your organization mobile, you will be better off in the long run paying the extra money for a secure cloud file storage and sharing program that you know you can trust.
Do you use a cloud file storage and sharing program? Which one? What do you think of it? Let us know in the comments!