Considering cloud computing options? File sharing is just one benefit of cloud storage, but is it worth the move? This article covers the pros and cons of cloud computing storage and gives you some benefits of sticking to local file storage.
According to SiliconANGLE, 82% of companies polled saved money by moving to the cloud. File sharing is one benefit of cloud computing, but is it worth the cost to uproot your current storage solution? Here are some pros and cons to consider if you want to move file storage to a cloud server.
Pros and Cons of Local File Storage
Traditionally, companies bought massive amounts of storage to support large enterprise file storage and backups. Local file sharing has its advantages. First, you don’t need any Internet connectivity to gain access to files. Your Windows servers also create local shadow copies, which are the operating system’s way of creating versions of your files. Shadow copies are similar to change control for code. If you make a mistake and overwrite data that you need to recover, shadow copies are used to recover a version from a specific date.
Next, local storage is more secure, because you aren’t making files available over the Internet. Cloud storage is usually secure, but just one mistake and hackers could have access to your files. With local file storage, you just need to worry about your local network users, so you have more control over access and security.
With local file storage, you have more control but it has its disadvantages. Windows servers use Active Directory to manage access rights, so you need a full Windows domain server to support your security. Between the physical hardware costs and software licenses, having a Windows domain server is an expensive option. For small businesses, these costs can eat away at your technology budget.
In addition to local server costs, you also need to spend money on the backup resources. Hard drives are expensive, and you need to buy enough space to cover future storage requirements. For most small businesses, that’s about a $2,000 – $4,000 investment up front.
You also need to set up a VPN (virtual private network) to give remote users access to locally stored files. VPNs are an added cost and maintenance overhead. You also make your network less secure, because hackers and laptop thieves sometimes break in to VPN systems.
Finally, if any of these resources fail, your company could have considerable downtime. How much can you afford? If it costs thousands of dollars for each downtime hour, it’s probably time to consider cloud computing.
Pros and Cons of Cloud Computing Storage
Cloud storage is cost-effective and much more convenient for small businesses. First, you have predictable, standard costs that only change if your business has a spike in usage requirements. The cost is usually much cheaper each month than buying resources up front. For most standard cloud services, it’s about a $15 investment each month for several gigabytes of storage capacity. This capacity is usually plenty of space for a small business just starting out.
All security and access is controlled by the cloud host, so you don’t need a VPN, internal security or local server to control access.
In addition to cost benefits, the cloud has almost zero downtime. Cloud providers have multiple data centers and load balancing that has failover technology to take over where one server fails. You don’t need to implement any backups or prepare for failed server outages when you work in the cloud. Your Internet connection is all you need to access files.
The cloud has several benefits, but you should be aware of the downside to this type of storage. First, your users generally need to download files to the local drive to edit them. If their laptops get stolen, these files are freely available to the thief.
Even though the cloud offers different file storage capacity prices, you need to pay to upgrade if you don’t purchase enough. You could effectively pay more over a longer period of time if the per-month costs add up to more than buying hard drives up front.
Although the cloud takes care of security, you’re limited to the provider’s security options. If you need to customize security, the process can be more difficult than using your own servers.
Small businesses don’t have the large budgets for high-end technology resources, so the cloud is a great, inexpensive option. Before you move in this direction, consider the overall costs and benefits first. If you need more control of your files, it’s best to stick to local file storage. If you just don’t have the time or resources to manage local file storage, the cloud is probably your best option.