The cloud has become an umbrella term for several different types of services, with each service having a distinct use.
Types of Cloud Services That Are Available
There are various types of cloud services that can be incorporated into your business model.
If your primary goal is to back up and protect your data, you want a service that's optimized for online backup, not a service that's geared for general-use storage.
If you are looking for a solution to store and share all of your business documents and media across various platforms, you need a service that focuses on storage and collaboration.
Businesses of any size that deal with computers and data should be practicing data backup in some form, and online backup services make it easier than ever to do so. Cloud backup services don't require additional hardware or IT expertise.
Public vs. Private Hosts
Web developers and businesses in other industries that require large amounts of data capacity but can't afford to buy expensive servers can turn to cloud platforms to host their websites, development applications, databases, etc. Cloud hosting companies usually charge by how much data is uploaded and downloaded.
Many businesses, either due to financial and legal reasons, are required to maintain records for extensive periods of time. Cloud storage for long-term archiving is available from numerous providers. Usually dubbed cold storage or archive storage, this type of cloud storage is cheaper and provides more capacity. This is because cold storage doesn't have many sharing options, and customers aren't expected to be accessing and retrieving files very often.
File Storage, Sharing and Collaboration
This is a type of cloud service that's more active and plays a role in a business's day-to-day workflow. These services allow users to organize and share files without taking up computer disk space. Some services have free apps that allow you to draft and edit files on the cloud from your browser, but many businesses benefit from the security and advanced capabilities of paid solutions.
In addition to intended use, here are some other factors to consider when narrowing your choices down on a cloud storage or online backup solution.
Ease of Use
Will this service's SaaS interface be easy for employees without much technical knowledge to learn and use? It shouldn't be complicated for someone with basic computer skills to set up a continuous backup schedule and recover data.
In our research, many services have user-friendly dashboards that let you organize data, schedule backups, manage group privileges, collaborate, control security settings and more.
Take advantage of demos and free trials; you'll see firsthand whether an interface is a good match for your needs.
Backup and Storage Capabilities
Many online backup services double as cloud storage services, allowing you to store more files and share them with others. Online backup services don't normally let you store additional files beyond what is on the hard drive or server you're backing up so you can make clean recoveries in case of an emergency.
If cybersecurity is a concern for you, encryption is a must. Many services offer 256-bit AES encryption, which meets the U.S. government's requirements for handling sensitive data. Make sure you choose a company that takes security seriously. Ask them about encryption and other measures they take to ensure your data is protected.
Some storage services may offer different performance tiers. For example, if you suffer a data loss and need your info back as soon as possible, you want a service that allows you to perform fast recoveries. Likewise, ask about any potential conflicts with bandwidth and throttling. You don't want your internet speeds diminished because the system is backing data up and your everyday operations are at a standstill.
If you are strictly looking for online backup, collaboration may not be a concern for you. However, if you share documents frequently, many services offer features that are both convenient and help you maintain tight security over your data. These features include password-protected file sharing links, delivery notifications on accessed documents, link expiration dates, user and group management, feedback and approval options, chat abilities and more.
Each cloud service lets you upload, download and access files via an internet browser. So, really, all you need is an internet connection to get to your data. However, some backup services only work on specific platform types, like Windows, Mac or Linux. Ensure that your service can accommodate the various platforms your business uses. If you have a highly mobile team, it may also be preferable to choose a service that offers an app for both iOS and Android devices.
Besides analyzing your current cloud needs, project the potential growth of your business. Choose a cloud service that can scale as your business grows.