Everything these days looks "cloudy" for IT. Why invest in servers and all that hardware (and the cost of supporting it) when you can simply rent space in the cloud? You get the convenience of 24/7 anytime, anywhere access to your data so you can focus on your business without having to worry about things that aren't your business, like managing technology.
Perhaps the biggest advantage is financial. There's no upfront cost. You can easily scale up or down as business conditions scale up or down. And you pay a regular fixed fee.
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Security Concerns with Cloud Storage Services
Security is always a concern when it comes to putting confidential and competitive information in the hands of a third party. Data breaches and, worse, outages that result in data loss, are always a risk, no matter whether your data is housed in the cloud or in a server next to your office. Arguably, it might be safer in the cloud. As Outsource IT Headaches to the Cloud points out in The Globe and Mail:
Because large cloud computing companies have more resources, [...] they are often able to offer levels of security an average small business may not be able to afford implementing on its own servers.
Almost all cloud providers offer some free storage, but these are aimed primarily at consumers; there is no free lunch for a business of any reasonable size, although free trials are usually available. In addition to basic storage, most cloud storage services include:
- Web-based dashboards to access data files
- Mobile apps
- Data backup and archive
- Usage reports
- Drag-and-drop file transfers
- Email/live support
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10 Cloud Storage Services for Business
Here are the top 10 cloud storage providers small and medium-sized businesses should consider:
Offers a variety of tiers, including a 12-month free usage tier for new users of its S3 (Simple Storage Service) up to 5GB, and EBS (Elastic Block Storage) up to 30 GB. The breadth of options is largely why Amazon Web Services is considered a leading public cloud provider.
Business plan: $15 a month for a minimum five users. Enterprise plan is $35 a month per user, with unlimited storage.
Carbonite focuses primarily on backup solutions, with Pro Plan pricing starting at $269.99 annually. They also have Server Plans that offer more customization, beginning at $799.99 a year.
$15 per user, per month, with a minimum of five users; unlimited storage.
Bundled with various apps in addition to 30BG of online storage per user, the basic plan is $50 per user per year. The unlimited storage plan is $120 per user.
50GB of storage per user is $25 annually; you can add up to 200 GB in 50GB increments. A Business plan is $2.50 per user with an annual commitment for 25GB per user (1TB is promised for a future roll out) with $0.20 per GB additional storage.
Business plan starts at $29.95 a year per user for unlimited storage; there's a $60 discount if you sign up for the $299 a year plan.
$10 monthly per user ($100 annual plan saves $20) for 100GB storage; price goes up $10 for each 100GB added. There are a variety of enterprise offerings that range from $60 to $100 annually per number of users.
An offering of EMC, the world's largest provider of data storage systems, as well as a range of data security, virtualization, and other data analytics products and services. The Business Edition costs $15 per user per month, for a minimum 3 users, with an option to purchase unlimited storage.
Pricing: Ranges from $300 for 1 TB to $2,250 for 10TB per year, with customized plans available. One interesting feature is Cold Storage, for inexpensive archiving of rarely accessed information.