Working in the “cloud” is becoming more and more prevalent among large and small companies, and there are certainly benefits to online file storage. But, as with every technological innovation, there are costs involved, too, and not just the dollars and cents variety. While the benefits handily outweigh the drawbacks, here’s a look at the pros and cons of storing your data in the cloud:
24-Hour Accessibility: Storing your files on the internet allows you to access them from any networked computer in the world, any time of day. This is a especially useful for companies with a large virtual workforce or for staff who travel frequently or may be working on multiple devices throughout the day.
Storage Cost & Capacity: With online storage, capacity is almost unlimited and the price tag is surprisingly low. It’s often cheaper to store files on the internet than it is to store them locally, especially if your business requires large files that take up considerable space on local servers. Storage vendors – such as Dropbox and SugarSync – can usually digitally encrypt data stored on their servers so that access to sensitive data is only available to authorized users.
Backup & Recovery: Online file storage backs up your files automatically. Backups are simple and fail-safe in the cloud, removing the potential for human error in a manual process. Some effective and affordable services include Mozy, Carbonite and Crashplan.
Operating System: Online storage is accessible regardless of your operating system or device. For example, you can access stored files on any Mac, Windows, iPad, iPhone or Android device.
Maintenance: It’s hard to beat the simplicity of maintaining internet storage, even at large companies. Users are simply given a login, password and secure access to files online.
Internet dependence: The single-largest benefit of the Cloud is also its greatest weakness; you can’t access your files or save them online unless you’re connected to the Internet. In the case of spotty wifi or if your connection fails altogether, the Cloud will do you no good.
Security Risk: While your files are protected from local disasters, you assume a different kind of risk with online storage. No matter how secure your file – or how secure your storage program – there is always the potential for a breach.
Server Outages: As with local servers, there’s an outside chance the server storing your files online will crash, too, bringing your work to a grinding halt. Even with the very best cloud service providers, it’s a risk that comes with the territory.