The security risks inherent to cloud storage are real, some of which I’ve highlighted previously in “What They Don’t Tell You About Storing Data in the Clouds.” However, the inherent weaknesses of cloud storage do not detract from its usefulness, which can be particularly compelling to SMBs looking for every edge they can gain.
On this front, Pete Lamson, SVP of small business from Carbonite, sent along a short list of some benefits to saving files in the cloud. Though not necessarily suitable for all small and mid-sized businesses, they did get me thinking on what cloud storage could offer to smaller businesses.
I highlight three of those points below, with my own thoughts on what they mean.
Anywhere File Access
Cloud storage offers file access anywhere there is Internet access. Given the inexorable trend of BYOD and the proliferation of mobile devices, this effectively means that workers need not see their productivity hit by an unnecessary trip back to the office for documents stored at an office computer.
Despite multiple proclamations about the paperless office over the years, most businesses have continued churning out paper documents at a prodigious rate. One of the inadvertent benefits of saving files in the cloud is its role in reducing the need for hard-copy printouts. After all, why even bother printing when employees can easily access the same documents on their laptops and tablets during meetings?
Indeed, SMBs that actively make use of cloud storage will find the effect cumulative —employees used to accessing documents from their portable devices will start requesting for the digital equivalent in lieu of messy paper printouts. Before long, a culture in which documents are only printed when absolutely necessary will develop.
Automatic Data Backup
Finally, saving files in the cloud offers a simple yet effective way to hedge against the untimely demise of a failed hard disk drive or a laptop that needs to be sent for urgent servicing. Depending on the cloud service of choice, the latest changes to important documents could be uploaded on a real-time basis, offering protection that surpasses that of traditional batch backup software. As you can imagine, this prevents data loss in situations of theft or misplaced laptops.
To be clear, I am not advocating the use of cloud storage for everyone. Ultimately, businesses must properly appraise the risks against the benefits, and decide if cloud storage is for them. For now, businesses seriously considering the use of cloud storage may also want to read “Debunking the Top Six Myths of Cloud Backup.”