Storing your files securely is an integral part of your business. Both local and cloud-based storage solutions can accomplish that goal. But each approach has its own advantages and drawbacks. This article takes a look at the pros and cons of both local and cloud-based file sharing.
Local Vs. Cloud-Based File Sharing
Starting a business is tough. Business owners need to make important decisions every day, and choosing wrong could be devastating to their companies and their employees. One of the most important, yet often overlooked, decisions facing startup businesses is how best to protect their data and intellectual property.
In many cases, intellectual property and proprietary user files are among the most valuable assets the company owns, and that makes protecting them of the utmost importance. Small businesses and startups need to investigate the relative merits of local and cloud-based file sharing. Like so many things, there are advantages and disadvantages to both the local and cloud-based approach. Business owners should weigh their options carefully when determining which choice is the best fit.
Local File Server Storage
Before cloud-based storage services came along, business owners had little choice when it came to backing up their files and sharing their data. Business owners needed to make an investment, often a significant one, in file server infrastructure. Storing data locally provides a greater level of control, but it also comes with greater risks. Here are some of the pros and cons of the local file server approach.
- Greater control of data: All data is stored locally, making it easy to access.
- Fast access: Since all files are stored locally, access times are blazing fast.
- Easy to secure: A good IT person can secure the network and file servers to prevent unauthorized access.
- The file server is located onsite for extra security and easy access.
- Built-in Shadow Copy makes restoring lost files and reverting to older versions fast and easy.
- Flexible data retention: Business owners can store data for as little as one day or as long as 5-10 years.
- Full control of file storage with no limit to allowable file sizes.
- Requires a centralized Active Directory domain to manage permissions. Also requires two servers – one acting as the primary and the second for backup.
- Expensive option for startup businesses. A quality file server can cost between $3,000 and $5,000.
- Requires a backup solution for safety and backup. A good backup solution costs $2,000 to $4,000 plus $200 to $400 per month for secure off-site file storage.
- Remote access requires a VPN, which can be slow and cumbersome for employees and customers to use.
- Potential downtime. If the server fails or goes offline, productivity will be severely impacted.
Cloud-Based Storage Solutions
Cloud-based storage has come a long way in a short period of time. A decade ago cloud-based storage was virtually unheard off, but today there are dozens of competing cloud storage providers.
Big names like Dropbox, Box.net, Syncplicity, Google Apps and Egnyte promise secure cloud-based storage for businesses and individuals. Here are some of the pros and cons of the cloud-based approach.
- Pricing is low and predictable. Cloud-based storage usually starts at about $15 per user per month, with no upfront costs for hardware and backup solutions.
- Remote users do not need a VPN to access company files. That makes it easier for non-technical employees and customers.
- No need to implement a separate backup solution.
- Easy to set up and manage. If you can use the Internet, you can set up a cloud-based storage solution for your business.
- No downtime due to failed file servers.
- All files are stored locally, both before and after backup to the cloud. If a laptop or other device is stolen, the thief could gain access to the data. Business owners who opt for cloud-based storage need to deploy strong encryption to limit this risk.
- File size limits. Most Cloud-based storage can only handle files up to a certain file size (say 5GB).
- Since files are synced to local hard drives, users could run into space problems. Business owners may need to invest in larger hard drives or external storage devices.
- Limited retention policy for altered or deleted files. The standard retention period for cloud-based storage is 90 days or 30 versions.
- The security of your files is dependent on the provider. It is important to check security carefully and make sure all files are encrypted.
- The cost of a cloud-based solution can be higher in the long run. The ongoing monthly costs could exceed the price of a good file server and backup software.