Cloud computing is surging ahead in popularity, with many SMEs embracing it for accounting, virtual faxing, storage of files and other functions. Using the cloud in your business may be able to save you money, improve your data security and integrity, and reduce your need for equipment and office space.
One of the best ways to make use of the cloud is for file storage, with many applications offering free cloud storage options up to a certain megabyte level. Some of the more popular ones include Google Drive, OneDrive, DropBox, Box, and Amazon Cloud Drive.
Benefits of cloud storage
Data storage has always been a bit of a problem in businesses. The floppy disks of the past tended to be fragile and prone to data corruption and loss, tapes were inclined to degrade over time, networks and drives tend to be vulnerable to disasters and cyber attacks, and laptops were and are vulnerable to theft. Cloud storage can help to overcome many of these limitations.
However, cloud storage applications can also be used for a number of functions besides the simple storing of data files. Here are ten ways you may be able to make efficient use of cloud storage in your SME.
Cloud storage ideas
- Store multiple file types – besides data files, cloud storage can also be used to store emails, faxes, ebooks, web pages, software applications and databases.
- Store valuable documents – even when important documentation is kept in a safe it can still be vulnerable to theft and catastrophe. By scanning your vital documents and storing them online, you can be assured of having access to them even if the hard copies or desktop copies are lost.
- Synch your files – by using synch tools you can ensure that the files held in the cloud are always up-to-date. This can save time you might otherwise spend doing backups or transferring the latest versions of files to the cloud.
- Share and collaborate – cloud storage file share services provide the opportunity for remote teamwork and collaboration on a project, assignment, article, spreadsheet, presentation or other group task. Unlike email where you need to update a document or file and transmit it back and forth, collaboration can be done much more directly by providing others with instant access to your online files.
- Store and access your to do list – by creating a task list and storing it in the cloud (such as a todo.txt file), you have the option to access it anywhere at any time and on any device.
- Make use of cloud apps – some cloud storage services provide a number of apps that go beyond file storage. For example DropBox provides the capacity to host web pages, convert files to other formats and perform various other functions.
- Recover old file versions – with some cloud services such DropBox and OneDrive you can recover previous versions of files if you wish, saving a lot of the stress that can come from accidently overwriting files or updating them incorrectly.
- Use to store images – one of the main concerns people have following a disaster is the loss of photos. By storing digital pictures in the cloud, they are protected and accessible from any device with an internet connection. Some cloud services also provide album or gallery views.
- Embed files – with a Box business plan for example, you can embed work samples and portfolio or ebook files on your LinkedIn profile, blog or website.
- Receive files directly – rather than requesting file copies by email, you can invite others to send files directly into your DropBox.
Like other cloud applications, cloud storage allows you to scale up or down according to your needs, so you do not waste money on space or functions you will never use.
Cloud storage and cloud computing in general may be able to improve your business’s security, flexibility, scalability, continuity, ability to collaborate, and also provide many cost and efficiency benefits. It’s worth taking the time to check out the various options available to see how they could benefit your SME.
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