Cloud Storage, the technology that is rapidly becoming popular amongst small businesses as one where data can be accessed from anywhere without any storage maintenance costs and no hardware maintenance costs. As such, in this article, let’s look at the 8 best cloud services for small businesses.
Why cloud storage?
Before cloud storage, businesses stored their data in physical storage devices like hard drives and memory cards. However, physical storage devices can easily get damaged. If not, they require physical proximity to access data. Businesses have tried storing their large amounts of data on dedicated servers located in specific data centers. However, data can be accessed only if you get on corporate networks and not available if one is on the go and not accessible via the internet.
Whether it be physical storage devices or large storage servers, both require dedicated support and maintenance. Maintaining the security of the data is a continuous challenge.
What is cloud storage?
Cloud storage is when a company provides server space to businesses to store data. The data belongs to the clients, whereas the server or group of servers belongs to the company owning the server. Maintenance of the servers and accessibility of the data is the company’s responsibility to own the server or servers. The company owning the server is called the cloud host, and they provide continuous access to client data while providing secure access as per the norms defined by the client.
Global internet infrastructure has improved, providing faster access to remotely stored data. Businesses are moving to cloud hosting as they endeavor to do away with the problems of local server maintenance, associated costs, and security concerns.
Earlier, we used to store our files and data on hard drives and used USB ports to access the data. Smartphones were not available with everyone. Today cloud services are available easily and everywhere. Lots of choices are available for the storage of data, whether it be files, databases, records, or servers.
In the present, there is no need to store data in storage devices and personal devices, making the security of the data better. Also, the data can be accessed online and far away from the physical location of the data round the clock.
The maintenance of the cloud storage is with the cloud hosting company. However, the data stored is accessible to the clients with proper security in place, preventing any data leakage. The user simply owns the space that they bought to store their data.
8 best cloud services for small businesses are as below:
1. Amazon Web Services
AWS or Amazon Web Services provides cloud hosting services through various plans with different benefits at a competitive cost. There are plans like Pay as you Go, where the customer pays only for resources they have used without any long-term commitments. Payless when you reserve, Pay even less per unit by using more, Pay even less as AWS grows, and Custom Pricing are other plans that AWS provides. Payless when you Reserve allows one to buy space in reserved capacity and be eligible for monetary benefits. You could Pay even lesser per unit by using more is when the storage hosting company reduces costs based on increased storage space and data transfer. Pay even less as AWS grows by getting benefits as operational costs of AWS goes down. AWS’s unique selling proposition is computation and dedicated application services like website hosting, gaming, mobile data backup, and business apps hosting. Custom Pricing is when the customers ask for customized requirements.
2. The Box
The box is another cloud hosting service that provides security and admin control features. The personal plan is Free, offering 10GB of storage, and the Personal Pro plan costs $10 per month and offers 100GB of storage. Business Plans start from $5 per user per month at 100 GB of space. At $15 per user per month, businesses can get unlimited storage for at least 3 users. Clients can request for customization under the enterprise plan.
Dropbox claims that they are the preferred choice of 300000 teams through their Dropbox for Business cloud hosting solutions. Expedia, Under Armour, Spotify, and National Geographic feature in their esteemed list of clients. Dropbox allows features like cross-platform sharing, storage, sync, back up, and seamless integration features; The basic plan for individuals is free and allows 2GB of storage, provides Microsoft 365 integration, and you can edit files directly through Dropbox. The Plus plan for individuals provides 2 TB of storage, and the business plan offers 5TB of storage with a charge of $15 per user per month for a minimum of 3 users. There is dedicated support for business users.
Justcloud With more than 50 features, the next in line is Justcloud, with multiple features. The business plan is a little higher in price but offers additional features. It costs $29.95 per month and includes 100GB of storage for 5 computers. The enterprise plan costs $59.95 and provides 500GB of storage for 20 computers. For greater backup requirements, clients can choose a customized plan.
5. Microsoft One Drive
Microsoft One Drive The tech giant cloud hosting services too. Individual users can get 5GB of storage for free. Higher denominations like 100GB, 1 TB and 6TB cost $1.99, $6.99 and $9.99. The business plans are from 1TB per user for $5 per month and come with free trials. Cross-platform syncing and powerful search are the features of one drive. Remote and local data are in sync as it has inbuilt features of integration through downloadable software. One Drive also supports third-party software to work with cloud data seamlessly.
Opendrive offers bundled features like data and user management, project management, and workflow management solutions with their business plan. Data Management provides sync and backup solutions along with data storage. Project management offers capacities processing more than 17 file types for direct editing. Many options for desktop apps are available for which work on Windows, Mac, and Android platforms. The open drive has a basis that provides 5GB of free storage with limits on file size and speed of access. The professional plans start at $29.95 and offer unlimited storage and unlimited speed of access, the unlimited file size for one user. The unlimited personal plan offers unlimited storage with up to 3 users, each account costing extra. Custom pricing is available as per client requirements.
Spideroak is famous for their “Zero-Knowledge” policy where they claim to have no knowledge of the data a client is storing. Full privacy with complete control to the clients are the selling points for Spideroak. It also claims no knowledge of the data stored as cloud service providers and many other flexible storage plans. Plans start at $5 per month for 150GB of data and go up to 5TB. Spideroak also provides plans for advanced business requirements like active directory integration like enterprise hosted and enterprise on-premise plans, which requires at least 500 users. Spideroak is a great fit for businesses holding sensitive data and needs advanced system configurations and services.
Syncplicity is the right fit for businesses that hold sensitive data and want the ability to control and limit access to be with the administrators. The stored data is accessible across multiple devices running multiple platforms. Yet, the user interface is clean and clear. Content usage is monitored through robust reporting features. Administrators can implement and control access to data and sensitivity of data better. It also allows administrators to group users and apply different controls to these groups. It facilitates controls based on the location of devices. All plans have a 30day trial period. The personal plan is free and offers 10GB of storage. Business plans start at $60 and are based on the number of users.
To conclude, one can say that there many providers of cloud services for small businesses. However, all free or low-cost personal plans come with many restrictions like size and type of data that can be stored, bandwidth utilization, restrictions on platforms, availability of backups, and technical support. Although this may be fine for personal usage, small businesses need to look carefully at restrictions and usage, sensitivity and controls, and go for plans that suit their needs. There are many good options, but small businesses need to look carefully before entrusting their data to any cloud hosting provider.