Cloud Vs. On-Site Storage: Which Is Better for Your Business?

Mon, Aug 6, 2012


With all the hubbub over cloud data storage, many small business owners are feeling compelled to at least explore the possibility of storing their business data remotely – “in the cloud.” All the heavy hitters in the online business community are rolling out or expanding their data cloud services. Many business owners rightly figure that any technological development that catches the attention of both Google and Amazon must have something to it. The truth is: even though information clouds represent the razor’s edge in online data storage, not every company needs to transition out of on-site storage – at least not entirely. Depending on what kind of services your firm offers, the size of your business and the amount and character of your digital data, converting over to the cloud may be an unnecessary expense.

Cloud storage is a catchall term used to describe virtual pools of data hosted off-site by third party servers. Private individuals and businesses can lease space in these virtual pools of data to help relieve some of the strain on home or office hardware. Businesses that transplant some or all of their data onto cloud servers are essentially renters with third-party landlords hosting their information.

There are definitely advantages to cloud storage for businesses of every size. For one, companies using cloud servers only have to pay for the storage space that they’re actually utilizing. Many companies that keep all their data on-site end up overspending on storage capacity. If the nature of your business makes it difficult to judge how much data you will need to store in any given fiscal year, you may avoid waste by leasing cloud space rather than investing in bloated servers and vast amounts of hard drive capacity.

Another benefit of cloud storage is that it allows companies to outsource technical and time-consuming maintenance tasks. In a typical cloud storage relationship, the third-party host takes on basic responsibilities including backup, hardware updating and data replication. Many companies discover that they can achieve a significant increase in productivity simply by shifting these tasks off the shoulders of their in-house staff.

Most significant, perhaps, is the flexibility of remote data storage. When information is stored on a data cloud, that information can be instantaneously accessed from any site, on any device with Internet access. Need to access images and data for a presentation overseas? If those images are stored on a hard drive in your home office, you may be out of luck. If those images are stored on a data cloud, however, you can access them from the nearest tablet, computer or smart phone.

The main concern most people have about cloud storage is security. No matter how good the encryption is on any server, there’s always a chance of your data being hacked. It stands to reason that the more places your data exists outside of your office, the greater chance there is of that data being copied or stolen. This concern is not unfounded, as many cloud servers have been compromised in the past.

The best advice when deciding whether to store data on-site or in the cloud is to weigh all of these factors and determine whether the economic advantages outweigh the risk of theft. The best decision depends entirely on your own business and personal preferences. To learn more about data clouds, your best bet is to contact host sites and compare their costs and services.

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