In today’s tech-centric world, small businesses are realizing the benefits of Cloud computing for storing the vast amounts of data and information related to their operations. From accounting and client information to proprietary data about their products and services, companies are steering away from on-site servers and maintenance and opting for secure, remote server solutions accessible via the Internet.
While some companies are still trying to understand the difference between IT and the Cloud, others are ready to jump in. But with hundreds of Cloud services available, choosing the right one to meet your specific needs can be a challenge. We’ve compiled a list of the six most popular services and what sets each apart.
1. Google DriveArguably the most popular option for file storage, especially for individual users, Google Drive is user-friendly, with features like drag-and-drop file uploads of any file type and easy navigation. It also provides real-time collaboration, allowing users to create, edit, save and invite others to work on documents and projects right within the platform, from any device. It comes with 15 GB of free storage, and additional space can be purchased with a monthly subscription as needed.
This platform works seamlessly with Microsoft products, and will also sync files between Mac and PC to access from your favorite browser, on any device. Similar to Google Drive, you can share and collaborate with others from anywhere, and it’s easy to open and edit files in Word or Excel. The free plan offers only 5 GB of storage, but additional storage is available with a paid subscription, which can be purchased on its own or as an add-on to Office 365 plans.
Apple faithfuls are familiar with the company’s iCloud storage but have often bemoaned its syncing issues and limited free-storage capacity of only 5 GB. But Apple’s taken note of its rivals and has been improving its Cloud platform. Unlike other Cloud services, once your files are synced across your Apple devices, you're able to access them whether or not you’re online. If your business leans heavily on media, it’s a serious contender. However, you’ll likely need to purchase Apple's iWork apps for standard documents. Check out their tiered pricing, which can be pricey, but will live up to users’ expectations of intuitive and engaging design.
For a business, you can pretty much forgo DropBox’s free version with its meager 2 GB of storage, but when you opt for one of their reasonably priced plans, it’s a definite contender with other top Cloud competitors. Users appreciate its easy-to-navigate features and intuitive design — great for those who don’t consider themselves tech-savvy. And it works well with PCs and Macs, Android and iOS. They offer business pricing with the first tier providing a whopping 2 TB of storage for five users, and you can try it free for 30 days.
Amazon has dominated the online shopping industry and is nudging its way into business computing as well. Using the same reliable infrastructure and global network of websites it already owns, Amazon offers highly scalable, fast and inexpensive data storage. Store and distribute any file type, perform backups and take advantage of disaster-recovery systems — they even offer web hosting. Unlike other services, there is no minimum fee. You only pay for what you use based on your region, and they provide a convenient calculator to help estimate your monthly budget.
6. Hightail (Formerly YouSendIt)
Formerly known as YouSendIt, this platform was a go-to solution for sending large files that email couldn’t handle. If you haven’t considered it since, it’s worth another look. Now known as Hightail, it not only provides the same features as previously mentioned platforms, it also boasts some project management capabilities with the ability to monitor activity and see outstanding to-dos for you and your team members. You can choose their pre-packaged Pro plan or create a custom business package. They also offer a free Lite plan for basic file sharing and collaboration capabilities.
Managing Your Cloud Platform
There are many other options available, so chances are you may need some help choosing and managing your Cloud system. At Gordon Flesch, we deliver a complete range of hybrid cloud services, including design, architecture, and hosting (IaaS) that are tailored to your needs, and we’d be happy to provide a free consultation.
To learn more about Cloud computing, download our free Beginners Guide to Cloud Computing by clicking the button below.