Business Tech

Cloud storage for small businesses

One of the essential tools that remote workers need is anywhere access to all their work files. Many small businesses are turning to cloud storage to fill this need. However, some companies still aren’t sure how they can use cloud storage or which options to choose.

Read on to learn if cloud storage for small business is right for you.

What is cloud storage for small business?

Cloud storage sounds complex. People use the term often and rarely explain it.

Cloud storage is a service that securely stores docs, spreadsheets, photos and other files. Moreover, it sets up anywhere-access to these files with your PC, Mac, Phone or internet browser.

Prior to the advent of cloud storage, many workers stored files and data on their computer’s hard drive, external drives or a company server. In today’s connected world, cloud storage offers many benefits over local storage. For example, you can save, access, edit and share your files from any device, anywhere, plus it protects your files from accidental loss and online threats. And that’s just the beginning of the list.

How do employees use cloud storage?

Cloud storage services are easy to use and often integrated into the programs that employees use daily. Cloud storage is used to:

  • Store and access files. Storing files in the cloud is as secure and seamless as storing them on your PC. Employees use the cloud to keep data safe and protected. Cloud storage also prevents files from piling up on desktops and hard drives. With features like version history, team members can even recover a prior version of a file if they delete or alter it by accident.
  • Share files. Cloud storage services allow team members to share files with other employees or with customers. File sharing empowers teams to share links to files via email instead of sending the file itself. In particular, businesses don’t need to worry about a file’s size blocking the email. Plus, with links protected by passwords, teams can ensure sensitive files land in the right hands.
  • Organize files. Cloud storage systems are often user-friendly. Team members can create folders within folders to organize files. Search bars allow employees to locate files in a flash. Built-in AI now suggests files to employees based on what they and their teammates have worked on recently. Teams can also create group folders so that each team member can view and access key documents. Team members can add files to group folders when they are ready for review.
  • Collaborate on files. Employees can edit and comment on documents, spreadsheets, and other files together in real-time. No more sending multiple versions of a document back and forth. With a cloud storage system, there’s a single document and a single source of truth. Additionally, file owners can track changes and revoke any unwanted adjustments.
  • Back up files. Once employees place files into cloud storage, they can rest easy knowing they are backed up.
  • Protect files. Cloud storage services include several file protection features such as file encryption, suspicious activity monitoring, ransomware detection, virus scanning and password-protected sharing links. Working together, these features protect your files from online threats.

Why is cloud storage a must-have for small businesses?

Cloud storage for small business is vital for productivity and file security. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Enables remote work. Seventy percent of people around the world work remotely at least once a week. Many of these people work for small businesses. Cloud storage for small business lets teams store, access, share, and work on files no matter where they are.
  • Productivity. Small businesses don’t have time to waste. Cloud storage is reliable and always up. It doesn’t shut down for updates as on-premise servers might. Collaboration features are necessary for remote teams. Editing together in real-time allows team members to work as though they are in the same room, even if they are states apart.
  • Cost effective. Cloud storage typically has a fixed monthly fee per employee in the range of $5-$15. Compare this with the expense of purchasing, licensing, hosting, upgrading and maintaining a server. And don’t forget you’ll need to defend the server from hackers and malware attacks.
  • Security. Fifty-eight percent of cyber attacks target small businesses. Cloud storage services offer a solution. Most of them have robust security measures that stop bad actors. These include file encryption, intrusion monitoring, and two-factor authentication. Top storage platforms even offer ransomware detection and recovery. Cloud storage provides more peace of mind than desktop or local server storage.
  • Protection. While cloud storage is not a true back up solution for all your systems. It does a fantastic job of backing up and protecting all the files that you keep in it.

How do you evaluate cloud storage for small business?

When you’re looking for a cloud storage service, you’ll find a lot of options on the market.

Choose a service that offers:

  • Strong security. Look for cloud storage with encryption at rest and in transit, virus scanning, version history, and an optional two-factor authentication login process. Defense against hackers and malware is vital. Check for roles and permissions controls, which ensure that team members only see the files meant for them.
  • Collaboration tools. Employees love to use cloud storage to get work done in the office, remotely, and on-the-go with their phones. Your storage service should offer file sharing, real-time collaboration and an app that lets you access and edit files anywhere.
  • Ease of use. Finally, your cloud storage service should be easy to use. If it’s not intuitive, your employees may resist using it.
  • Cost. Most providers offer pricing that ranges from $5 to $12 per employee per month. That cost typically includes not just cloud storage but also a bundle of apps such as email, spreadsheet, word processor, notes, and chat/meeting apps.

Should you get a personal or business cloud storage account?

You’ll face one more question after you choose a provider. Should you get a personal or business account?

A business account is the better choice. This is especially true when you run a small company. These accounts offer extras like:

  • Admin controls
  • Enhanced collaboration features
  • Increased security
  • Added or unlimited storage
  • Upgraded support

With certainty, a business account helps you get the most out of cloud storage.

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Business Insights and Ideas does not constitute professional tax or financial advice. You should contact your own tax or financial professional to discuss your situation.