Choosing a cloud storage provider for your small business

As a small business, one of the best investments you can make is cloud storage.

Cloud computing has been quick to make its mark in Australia, allowing small businesses to lower operating costs and improve productivity. For SMEs with a mobile workforce and those based out of city centres, cloud storage is especially convenient.

Cloud storage refers to the ability to access your files through the internet, rather than storing them on a server. You can open your files through an app or software installed on your computer. If you lose your internet connection, your files will be updated as soon as you’re back online.

For any kind of small business, storing your files in the cloud has a range of advantages.

Accessibility – Accessibility is a huge factor. If your role involves working from different locations, computers and devices, with cloud storage you’re never without access to your data.

Backup – The cloud provides backup for files so they remain accessible if your phone gets lost or your computer crashes.

Collaboration – Cloud storage is an easy way to share files with clients and colleagues, especially for documents, multimedia files and artwork that is too large to email.

Security – The cloud is one of the safest ways to store and share sensitive information. The best business cloud services encrypt your files, meaning no-one outside your company can see your data – including the cloud storage providers employees.

If you’re starting a new venture or you’re yet to move your business to the cloud, read on for a short summary of three popular cloud storage solutions for small business – Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive.

All three services have a free account that comes with limitations, such as the amount of storage provided or a size limit on files you can upload.

Paid accounts usually come with additional support (in some cases unlimited), and have several benefits including access to file-version history, more security, and more features for collaboration and working with teams.

Google Drive offers an integrated file sharing and collaborative editing suite with Google Docs, and 15GB of free storage space to upload photos, videos, documents, Photoshop files and more. Featuring a complete set of office tools with cloud storage in Drive, you get a word processor, spreadsheet application and presentation builder.

The main advantage with Google Drive is the close integration with Gmail and Google+, and the powerful search capabilities. It’s easy to save attachments from your e-mail directly to Drive, and photos are backed up automatically without the need for the separate Google Photos app. Another benefit is that you can drag and drop files into the Drive site and they’ll be uploaded automatically. You can preview attachments from Gmail in Google Drive, and save those files to the cloud.

Based on storage requirements Google Drive, pricing is as follows:

100GB is $1.99 AUD per month
1,000GB is $9.99 AUD per month
10TB is $99.99 AUD per month.

The good side here is that if you’re using G Suite (previously called Google Apps for Business) which is the business Google Apps products, there is now an unlimited option for $10 per month. The only downside – if you use Google Drive’s tools to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations, you must export those files to edit them in another program.

Dropbox is a simple file-syncing and storage service. Dropbox works equally well on PCs and Macs, Android and iOS, and is easy to learn. The desktop applications blend seamlessly with your computer file system.

Whilst Dropbox offers a free 2GB account, for small businesses requiring more storage, Dropbox comes in a Pro version that starts at $13.99 AUD per month for 1TB. Alternatively, there is a Business for Teams version that offers as much space as needed, administrative tools and extra support. It starts at $17 AUD per month for five people.

Dropbox offers standard security protocols, with files encrypted on the servers, and data protected during the upload and download process. Dropbox recently added a second layer of security with a two-step verification option.

Once known as SkyDrive, OneDrive is the default online storage and syncing service for Windows 10 and Office 365. However anyone can use OneDrive by downloading a desktop app for Mac and earlier versions of Windows, or the OneDrive Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Xbox apps.

OneDrive offers 5 GB for free, and if you need more space, $2 AUD per month boosts your storage to 50GB. With an Office 365 subscription, you can collaborate in real time with other people and see the changes they make as it happens. Click here for more OneDrive plans.

You can store any kind of file in the service, including photos, video and documents, and access them from any of your Windows PCs or mobile devices. It’s easy to open and edit files from OneDrive in Microsoft’s other applications, such as Word or Excel.

OneDrive’s biggest strength is that it works closely with Microsoft Office apps such as Word and PowerPoint, so when you launch these applications you see a list of recent documents saved to OneDrive. Having files automatically synced to your PC without the hassle of installing an additional application is very convenient, and they are easily accessible from the left-hand sidebar of Explorer.

Whilst Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive are amongst the top three cloud storage options, there are other services that vary in storage, file management and collaboration tools depending on your line of work your workflow.

If you would like some cloud storage advice from the Waypoint team, get in touch at enquiries@wearewaypoint.com and we’ll talk through your options.