According to a report released by Intuit and Emergent Research, up to 80% of small businesses will be using the cloud for their storage and computing needs by 2020. That’s a significant leap from the 2014 estimate of just 37%.
With the shift toward cloud storage happening this quickly, it’s essential that businesses know how to set up and manage their storage options properly. Although cloud computing is often viewed as more secure and stable than other backup and storage options, small businesses should note a few pitfalls and gaps that could make them vulnerable to cyberattacks or leave them missing vital information from their systems.
Here are the most common mistakes the Alt-Tech IT specialists see when they’re helping small businesses configure their cloud solutions:
Choosing a Storage Option that Doesn’t Have the Right Features
There are plenty of options when it comes to cloud storage, and most businesses will require multiple locations to house different types of documents. For example, customer information will be stored in its own folder, while internal procedures and accounting data will be organized separately as well.
Different cloud storage solutions will include various features. Here are a few to be aware of when you’re choosing a system for your small business:
Versioning. This means all previous versions of a file are stored and can be recalled. It’s is useful if you have multiple people or teams working on a single document.
Auto-syncing. Systems like Dropbox, OneDrive, and iCloud automatically sync documents across multiple devices to your cloud database. Syncing is not to be confused with backing up. You still need to regularly back up your files, even if you have auto-syncing turned on.
Storage Capacity. How much are you able to store in one place? Some systems only offer a few gigabytes of storage for free before charging a fee. For example, Google Drive offers 15 GB of storage space for free, but you’ll need to pay a premium if you require more. That said, cloud storage pricing is variable. Be sure to look into how much extra gigs will cost you and compare that to how much storage you think you’ll need. Don’t forget to account for an increase in your storage needs as your business grows!
Not Backing Up to a Hard Drive
As mentioned above, syncing is not the same as backing up. Syncing automatically deletes or copies files, meaning your database is constantly changing. Meanwhile, a backup permanently saves all your files to a single storage location. It’s important for businesses to maintain hard copy backups of files, so talk to your IT service provider to ensure you have appropriate backup locations.
Not Doing Maintenance and Security Checks
A lot of businesses switching to cloud storage systems do so because of convenience and security. However, it’s important to remember that cloud systems aren’t infallible, nor are they static. Changes to the system can mean changes to files, so it’s important that you have a professional IT company on board to help you complete routine maintenance and keep an eye on your security.
Best Practices to Follow When Using the Cloud for Business Storage
Although there are some risks to be aware of, cloud storage and computing is undoubtedly the way of the future for businesses. If you’re ready to join the 80% of small businesses that will be using the cloud in 2020, here are a few tips to take away before you start.
Do your research. When you’re looking for a cloud storage provider, be sure to weigh the options fully. Switching systems takes a lot of work for setup and reconfiguration, so it’s best to minimize shifts by finding the right provider upfront. Ask your local IT specialist for their recommendations.
Keep an inventory of where everything is stored. If you’re using multiple storage providers (i.e. QuickBooks Online for bookkeeping and accounting, Dropbox for client files, and Google Drive for internal files), be sure you know where these different types of data are located. This inventory should include your hard copy backups. This way, if anything were to happen to the system, you’ll know how to recover your data and navigate through any security issues. If you have an IT specialist or outsourced IT team, consult them to learn how to set this inventory up.
Hire an IT service provider. Cloud storage can be simple, but when you’re storing multiple files in multiple locations, it can quickly become a challenge while posing security and disaster threats. Find an IT service provider who can help you find the right solution, maintain your backups, complete regular security checks, and create a disaster recovery plan.