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Software December 15, 2015
Cloud storage makes it easier than ever to collaborate with co-workers, internal clients, and even customers without leaving your desk or home office. With so many options available, how do you know which option best fits your business needs and budget? How do you know you’re paying the right amount for what you need, so you’re getting a good value from your cloud storage service?
Many cloud storage companies will let you try their services for free with a scaled-down demo version or for a limited trial period. And if you have a really small business that doesn’t need all the bells, whistles, and security features of a full version, you might be able to get by initially by having your employees sign up for free individual cloud storage accounts.
However, a word to the wise: Don’t fall into the trap that so many small companies fall into of “cheaping out” and trying to get by with free services. Recognize when your needs have grown enough to justify paying for an upgrade.
For that day when you’re ready to share files and collaborate via the cloud, check out our quick overview of five of the most popular cloud storage solutions available for businesses.
One of the most well-known cloud services, Dropbox is very popular with both individuals and businesses. An individual can get 2GB of storage for free with the personal version.
Advantages: It’s simple to set up folders in Dropbox and to move items between folders by dragging and dropping them on your desktop or mobile device. Once files are added, they sync quickly, so they’re available on all your devices that have the Dropbox app. It’s also easy to share files with others.
Downsides: There aren’t many options for displaying or organizing files, and it’s not as efficient for collaboration as some other services out there. In PC Magazine’s review of DropBox, they point out that multiple users can’t edit a document at the same time or view a document while another user is editing it. It also only integrates with limited business apps and doesn’t offer as much in the way of enterprise security as some of the other options.
Business Pricing: Starts at $15 per month for 1TB (1,000GB) per user with a minimum of five users
Supports: Desktop and mobile access, including iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Kindle Fire
Launched in 2012 by Google, most of us already have access to the free personal version of Google Drive with our Google accounts. Google Drive is also built into your operating system if you have a Chromebook.
Advantages: Google Drive makes it simple to access and sync your files on all your computers and mobile devices. It’s also easy to search for files in Drive, even image files. Plus, it comes with some handy applications, such as a word processor and tools for creating presentations and spreadsheets. Drive is more than just a cloud storage system. Its applications are meant to compete with office software, such as Microsoft Office.
Downsides: Files created in Drive have to be exported to be edited in other programs, much like any other proprietary office software.
Business Pricing: The Google at Work Apps base plan starts at $5 per month for 30GB of shared storage per user between email and Google Drive, but it comes with additional features like business email addresses, voicemail, security and admin controls, and more. The next level up from the base plan is $10 per user per month but comes with unlimited storage in addition to other features.
Supports: Desktop and mobile devices, including iOS and Android
Microsoft’s cloud solution, formerly a component of Windows Live, comes standard with your operating system if you have Windows 8 or Windows 10. It’s also included with a paid subscription to Office 365. You can also download a free OneDrive app even if you have other operating systems.
Advantages: It’s easy to use with other Microsoft applications, like Word and Excel. It also allows you to access files quickly and edit them in real time with other users. It works with all types of files and even organizes your files into folders for you.
Downsides: Some businesses may find the document sharing features to be less than optimal. Some common user complaints include that the sharing features are clunky and not as intuitive to use as with other cloud options, users encounter issues when syncing files, and the upload and syncing speeds can be slow.
Business Pricing: Starts at $5 per month per user for 1TB of storage
Supports: Desktop and mobile devices, including iOS, Android, and Windows Phone
Just introduced in the summer of 2015, this may be one you’ve not heard about yet. It’s from Barracuda Networks, a leader in email and web security. The company also makes a free no-frills personal version called Copy that offers 15GB of storage with no file size limitations.
Advantages: CudaDrive uses 256-bit AES encryption to secure data as it is in transit to the Barracuda Cloud, as well as to protect your data stored there. It can also be configured to protect files and folders on endpoints, such as computers, and mobile devices, such as smartphones, so that this data is unavailable once users log out of the CudaDrive service. Users can choose to add CudaDrive Site Service, an appliance that can be purchased to replace or work with your local server to optimize CudaDrive. It allows for local caching and can limit the bandwidth on your local drives.
Downsides: CudaDrive tends to be pricier than other cloud services, which could be a deterrent for smaller businesses with fewer users or businesses who need additional storage or features.
Business Pricing: Around $70 per month or $700 per year for 250GB of storage for unlimited users
Supports: Desktop and mobile devices, including iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Kindle Fire
Formerly Box.net, Box was built with businesses in mind, so it’s perfect for when large groups of employees need to collaborate on projects. Businesses can choose from the Starter, Business, or Enterprise packages, and there’s also a free personal version with 10GB of storage.
Advantages: Some cool features of the Business and Enterprise versions include custom branding, mobile security control, and cool reporting tools that let you create advanced user and security reports. The service also integrates with Microsoft Office 365 and leading Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) providers.
Downsides: It’s not as straightforward to use as some of the other cloud services, and the max file sizes are more limited than with some other plans.
Business Pricing: A Starter package for businesses currently runs $5 per month per user and is limited to 3-10 users. Their next package up is $15 per month per user for unlimited files with a minimum of three users.
Supports: Desktop and mobile devices, including iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone
The best way to decide which cloud storage service is best for you is to set your priorities. What is most important to you: security, collaboration tools, file size limits? What is going to make the biggest difference to your day-to-day business operations?
Once you know what you, your team, and your remote workers and consultants need to be able to work at your efficient best, then you’ll be ready to take advantage of one of these cloud storage services.
What has been your experience with the cloud? Do you have a service you really like that we didn’t mention? Let us know what your favorite cloud storage system is through our “Contact Us” page.
Contact us to talk about how we can help.