It may not get put in a wooden chest and placed in a secret hiding spot, but data remains the most valuable treasure a business can possess.
At one time, customer purchase records, financial statements and other mission-critical information would be stored in filing cabinets that could be securely locked at the end of every day. The challenge, of course, was that those files could often mysteriously go missing, and keeping it all organized could occupy an entire team of employees.
The digitization of data has helped address many of these issues. Information is more widely available than ever before. It can be shared with others inside and outside of organizations to collaborate. Many of us can now also manage our own data, rather than delegating it all to assistants or administrators, letting those professionals devote their time to higher-value tasks.
Cloud computing offers an even greater benefit, in that it allows files to be easily stored and retrieved. Sometimes, however, people get nervous about using the cloud instead of keeping everything on their hard drives.
The “cloud” can sometimes seem mysterious and ephemeral, because you can’t see it the way you can a piece of hardware. There are ongoing questions about whether cybercriminals could somehow hack their way into the cloud and steal your data. And is there really just one cloud, or several?
Let’s start by answering the last question first. Yes, there are multiple clouds, but think of them more as services offered by different providers. The underlying technology is likely the same, but some of the pricing plans and feature sets might be more preferable than others depending on your business needs.
The overarching benefits of cloud storage, however, are likely the same no matter whose services you turn to for help. The potential risks or disadvantages of not using the cloud to store your files are also consistent, regardless of the kind of business you’re running.
Whether you’re trying to make the business case for cloud storage to your boss or just trying to make up your own mind, here’s a shortlist of the five reasons to say “yes”:
When computers were first introduced to the workforce you heard countless stories of people working on an important report, spreadsheet or other document when, suddenly, disaster occurred.
It could have been as simple as a temporary blackout that shut down power to your office, or something more specific to the desktop you were using. The impact was consistent, though: if you weren’t routinely hitting some kind of “save” button, all or parts of your work could be lost forever.
Cloud storage applications were designed with these scenarios in mind. Saving happens automatically, even while you’re working on a specific document. You’re not waiting until you’re finished to ensure it is properly stored. Instead, storage becomes part of the process of working, and remains trustworthy long after.
A coworker clicks on a link they receive within an email. Sounds innocuous enough, but in some cases those links could be part of what’s called a phishing attack, which leads to that employee’s computer being infected with malicious software or malware.
Worse yet, that malware or computer virus can spread to the systems of everybody using the same network — including yours.
Cloud storage can be the best insurance against IT security incidents you can have. Your files are essentially abstracted from physical hardware, which means they can remain safe and isolated from a network infected by a virus. It also means you may still be able to access those files on another device while the security incident is cleared up.
3. You’re protected by passwords
Filing cabinets and physical storage units used to require employees to carry around a key in order to get what they needed. Cloud storage offers a great improvement on that practice by allowing you to set up a password that will be unique to you (and possibly your IT administrator).
Sometimes password security gets a bad rap, but it has remained a standard business practice because they really do work. Just make sure you create a password that isn’t easy to guess, and change it periodically to add an additional layer of security.
Hard drives break. An office building can catch fire. An earthquake can wreak havoc across an entire city.
These are all different levels of disaster, but they all spell trouble for businesses that will rely on access to files to get back on track serving customers. It’s why the most successful organizations always have a strong disaster recovery or business continuity plan in place.
Cloud storage is ideal for these kinds of plans because those providing cloud storage services make sure to have redundant servers. Even if the worst happens and one server shuts down, in other words, there are backups ready and able to make sure your files are not lost.
“Sorry, that’s the wrong version” Is not a great way to get work done with your colleagues — or to try and build trust with your customers.
Storing files locally almost always leads to mistakes, because people have a hard time keeping track of the various versions of the same document.
Cloud storage is a boon to collaboration not only because multiple people can access files from anywhere, but because all changes are synchronized every time they are made. You’ll always be working with the right files, no matter what you’re working on.
These benefits of the cloud have been around for several years now, but as more people try it out, the more business professionals are recognizing their value. Trust in cloud computing is only going up, so think about putting your files there today.