As your business grows, doubtless so will the amount of data you have to deal with – and the question of where to store that data is a crucial one. Of course, the cloud is a storage option with a good number of benefits.
Shifting to the cloud means that staff members can easily share files or collaborate online. Furthermore, if business data is synced to the cloud, and for example an employee loses their device, or its contents are wiped, it is dead easy to place that data on another device.
Cloud storage offers convenience, and in the case of businesses, often extra features over and above personal cloud storage options (including boons such as granular control of file sharing, and vast amounts of capacity for storage).
On the money front, while it might be tempting to use a personal (or even free) cloud storage locker for a business to cut costs, we’d discourage that idea, unless you are seriously strapped for cash and have no other realistic choice.
Really, you need a full cloud service that will cover the needs of the business in terms of the aforementioned extra features: one that offers productivity benefits like online collaboration for employees, as well as security boons in terms of data or device management.
So, bearing all that in mind, which cloud storage option should you go for? In this article, we’ve picked out our favorite cloud storage services for businesses.
How to choose a cloud storage service for business?
Florian Malecki, International Product Marketing Senior Director at StorageCraft gives us his thoughts
Organisations are often unclear about the best way to keep their files and systems safe, but there are plenty of preventative measures that can be taken to avoid the costly risk of downtime. Arguably the most important factor is backing up and recovering data quickly and efficiently. That is where cloud storage comes in.
With most cloud services providers, companies can tailor coverage to meet unique recovery and budget requirements while enjoying access to data anytime, anywhere, with instant failover in a cloud built specifically for disaster recovery.
The cloud combines low setup, management and overhead costs with high flexibility. The important thing is protecting and securing backups offsite and giving businesses peace of mind knowing that data is safe and secure.
Key factors organisations should consider when moving to the cloud are:
● Keep backups on-site and off-site. With any data, redundancy is the key. Data copies should be kept both on-site and off-site. Off-site could be in the cloud, but it could also be backup images stored on a hot-swappable hard drive that you can take to a secondary location (i.e. a “poor man’s cloud”).
● Choose a cloud with recovery options. If it’s not possible to recover data locally, organisations need to have a backup strategy in place. Some cloud services will allow you to spin up a Virtual Machine (VM), even if local recovery is impossible. For systems that have zero tolerance for downtime, a cloud-based recovery option is the best option.
● Mirror critical data. 99.999% uptime is exceptional, but nothing is infallible. It is important to remember that, while uptime is great, errors do occur, and data can be accidentally deleted or somehow corrupted. For extra critical data, it’s wise to not only backup data in the cloud, but to mirror it to a geographically disparate region for extra assurance.
Dropbox is a veteran cloud storage service which majors in ease-of-use, and of course that’s never a bad thing. It also provides apps across a wide variety of platforms, including not just Windows and Mac PCs, but Linux machines, as well as Android and iOS devices.
It isn’t just platform support which is wide-ranging, either, but support for the storage of different file types – Dropbox can store almost any file you care to name without falling foul of compatibility issues.
As mentioned, user-friendliness is a strong suit. It’s possible to drag and drop files into the desktop app with ease, and a snap to share files with other users via simple links (even if they don’t have a Dropbox account themselves).
Furthermore, extra functionality is provided for businesses in the form of Dropbox Spaces, which are collaborative workspaces that take the ‘shared folder’ concept to the next level. Dropbox Spaces are powered by machine learning, offering a raft of organizational tools.
Dropbox Transfer is another important feature for businesses, allowing you to easily send large files (up to 100GB) securely online, and HelloSign has recently been adopted as the default eSignature solution in this cloud storage service.
Naturally, given the length of time Dropbox has been around, it integrates with other popular apps including the likes of Microsoft Office, Google Docs and Slack. Another handy touch is that Dropbox Business can be connected to your personal account so you can access all your files in one place.
Finally, it’s worth noting that the Dropbox dashboard is a streamlined and user-friendly affair. Admins can use this to restrict sharing or block commenting as needed, and monitor usage of the service throughout the business.
For all these reasons, and more, Dropbox is our top-rated solution when it comes to your business needs in the cloud.
Egnyte takes a different approach to cloud storage, using a hybrid model. In other words, businesses can store data in the cloud, but more sensitive information can be stored locally, in on-premise servers. This means you get all the convenience of the cloud, while benefiting from the better control over security that on-premise delivers (and not forgetting compliance issues too).
Business teams can work how and where they want, thanks to a user-friendly collaboration system via Egnyte’s content services platform. Moreover, the service promises to help mitigate the typical risks which come with the likes of BYOD in business, offering granular permissions and AI-powered policy enforcement.
As you might expect, Egnyte provides a host of integrations with many big-name applications including Microsoft 365 and Salesforce, delivering additional levels of flexibility for businesses who use these popular third-party apps.
That’s backed up with plenty of oomph in terms of reports, with the service promising enterprise-wide content insights.
Speaking of which, the ‘Enterprise’ price plan is the top-tier offering, suitable for businesses with over 50 staff members. It gives each employee 50GB of online storage space, advanced content protection, as well as coverage on the data governance and compliance front. Pricing isn’t given for this tier, as you must contact Egnyte to discuss your particular needs, which will dictate the cost of the contract.
The basic ‘Team’ plan, however, is priced on the website and starts at $10 per employee per month (with 1TB of total storage capacity), being suitable for businesses with up to 10 staff.
Operations with more than 10, but less than 100 staff members, can go for the ‘Business’ plan which offers the hybrid architecture, and you get the same 1TB of basic storage, but with an additional 10GB per staff member. It costs $20 per employee per month.
BackBlaze is a storage operation which specializes in one particular thing – backing up your precious business data. Unlike some of the other services we’ve listed in this article, it’s not about collaborating over files, or syncing files across different devices or platforms.
In other words, this is not a productivity tool as such, but a pure backup offering – but BackBlaze does backup with a high level of expertise. The service can handle web-based restore operations of up to 500GB – which is impressive compared to rivals – and can facilitate a restore by sending you a physical hard drive with your data on it via FedEx (with the data encrypted, of course).
BackBlaze’s Business Backup service offers unlimited backups, with no limit on total capacity or file size, and can be had at starting from $60 per year per user. The firm further offers server and NAS backup to its B2 cloud storage, and that’s priced at $5 per month per terabyte. (Outside of the business arena, there’s also a personal backup plan for a single PC which costs $6 per month).
BackBlaze works continuously in the background to keep all your data backed up, and recently expanded its capability in terms of version histories. Previously, old versions of files were kept for 30 days, but now version histories can be maintained for a year, or indeed forever (at an additional cost).
Overall, this is a sterling solution for defending against potential data disasters.
Tresorit is a cloud storage provider which offers end-to-end encryption for your data, as well as the ability for users to easily share files, and collaborate online with each other.
The service allows for accessing files across any device or browser, so users can grab the file they need when on the move, and thanks to the tight encryption and security implemented by Tresorit, employees won’t need to use a VPN when remotely accessing sensitive data.
Furthermore, Tresorit’s Admin Center allows for enterprise mobility management features, and enforcing policies such as two-factor authentication. If a mobile device is lost, files can be remotely wiped; as you might have guessed by now, Tresorit places a major emphasis on security.
The ‘Business’ plan is for companies who have 10 or more employees, and costs $10 per user per month (billed monthly), although there is a ‘Small Business’ plan (for firms with 3+ staff) which gives you the basics including file sharing via encrypted links, managing user groups with security policies, and 1TB of online storage.
Tresorit top-tier offering is the ‘Enterprise’ plan which is for businesses that have 100+ employees, and offers numerous additional benefits including a fully tailored package, data residency options, staff training and more.
SpiderOak gives subscribers the ability to access, synchronize and share data using a cloud-based server.
The central product here is the One Backup service, which offers what is described as a secure and reliable way to protect your data, syncing it across all devices as you might expect, with end-to-end encryption securing any data transfers.
SpiderOak maintains a full version history of your deleted files with no time limits, which could come in very handy. The client software is available for Windows, Mac, as well as Linux on the desktop, plus Android and iOS on the mobile front. Note, however, that the mobile clients are read-only, so while you can look at documents or files, you can’t upload or sync with these apps.
Again, there’s an obvious focus on privacy and security, and although the firm’s software has a rather basic design, it’s easy-to-use.
SpiderOak notes that it operates a ‘no knowledge’ policy, meaning the company doesn’t have any knowledge of the data you are storing on its servers (or of any metadata, or login credentials). Users can also avail themselves of a 21-day free trial of the One Backup service.
SpiderOak One Backup comes in four different flavors, all of which offer coverage for an unlimited number of devices, they just vary in terms of the amount of data which can be stored. The entry-level plan gives you 150GB capacity for $6 per month, going all the way up to 5TB which costs $29 when billed monthly (the plans are slightly cheaper if you plump for an annual subscription).
There is also a heavyweight Enterprise Backup plan which is fully scalable and easily deployed even when dealing with a large number of devices.
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