If you are like many of our office space tenants, you have often found yourself at a meeting or working remotely away from your office only to discover that you do not have the files you need. One of the best solutions for always having access to your files is cloud computing – specifically data storage and synchronization on a cloud server. It was pointed out that we previously posted a blog about Cloud Servers as a Possible Data Storage and Back-up Solution, but did not give some examples of cloud services or what they might cost for a small business.
It is sometimes said that there are almost as many cloud storage services as clouds in the sky, but we want to focus on business-centric cloud computing options that are scalable for small businesses. It should be noted that many of these business cloud providers offer consumer versions at a lower cost (sometimes even for free), but and with less storage and fewer features. Still they’re a viable solution for small businesses with smaller needs.
The two types of cloud computing that most small businesses look for are sharing and syncing, and online backup. For the purpose of this blog, we want to share some options for Small Business File Storage, Sharing and Syncing. We may do another blog on online back-up later. Here are five of the more popular cloud options that are scalable for small business use. Some of the suggestions are ones that some of our office space tenants use on a regular basis. Each of them has its own unique qualities and available options, so it is important to find the one that not only suits your budget, but also one that best suits your business cloud computing needs.
• Google Drive: Google Drive (also know as Google apps for business) is a cloud-based file storage and sharing service that the people at Google have paired with their SaaS (Software as a Service) software productivity suite (which you may know as Google Docs), that allows you to create and edit documents right on your computer browser without having to install software programs like Microsoft Office. While it Works best in Google Chrome, you can access and use it on any browser. With Google Drive, you also have the ability to preview files even when you don’t have the software program they were originally created with installed. You can have 5 GB of storage and access to the Google software suite for free or you can get 25 GB for $2.95 a month. If you require 100 GB, it is only $4.95 a month.
• Microsoft SkyDrive: Microsoft’s SkyDrive for business offers a great integration with the Windows operating systems, especially if you are using Windows 8, Windows Tablet or Windows Phone. Skydrive will sync your device settings and apps as well as files and folders. There is also SkyDrive for Mac and even Android. One feature that works only with the windows version is called “Fetch.” This feature allows you pull files off your PC (provided that it is online) even if you haven’t uploaded them to your SkyDrive. Micorsoft’s Skydrive offers 7 GB of storage for free and additional storage can be purchased. For 20 GB you pay $10 per year and for 50 GB you pay $25 per year. And if you want 100 GB, you only need to pay $50 per year.
• Dropbox for Business: You may already be familiar with Dropbox’s free and easy-to-use service to share and store personal files in the cloud. Dropbox for Business provides support for multiple users with 1 TB of shared storage along with centralized administration. It also allows for the ability of tracking and recovering previous versions of files. For $795 per year, this could be the solution for you and four other colleagues to share and collaborate.
• SugarSync for Business: This is designed for small businesses that use a variety of platforms such as PC, Mac, iOS, Android device and BlackBerry. SugarSync cloud for Business even has a plugin for Microsoft Outlook allowing you to email links to large files rather than attaching the files themselves. You may not be familiar with SugarSync, but millions of worldwide users are. For $550 per year, three users can share 1 TB of storage.
• Box: If you are looking for a cloud that offers more than just file storage and sychronization, but will also be more of a centralized data centre that allows for more collaboration, then Box.com might be the answer for your small business. Think of Box as more of a file server in the clouds – but without the expense of hosting your own server and the IT costs of maintaining a server. With Box, you can share content with your team (and external partners and vendors) just by sending a link. The cost of maintaining your 1TB Box is $45 per month (based on a minimum of 3 users) and only $15 per month for each additional user.
Now that you want to move your business files to the clouds, why not consider an office in the clouds too? With Telsec’s VoIP virtual office service, you can have a prestigious business address to receive your mail and packages, but also have a professional receptionist to answer your telephone calls and handle them as you instruct. You can have the receptionist (who is physically at our office space location) transfer your calls to your home phone, mobile phone or even to an optional VoIP handset that can be used anywhere in the world.