If your small business isn’t in the cloud, it probably should be. The cloud storage option not only protects your data against unexpected computer failures and stolen devices, but also allows you to access the information anywhere, from any computer, tablet, or smartphone. Even better, various free services offering cloud storage can meet the needs of your business at no cost to you. An email service like Gmail and Yahoo Mail is also an example of cloud computing because you use your email account using your web browser without installing any desktop client.
Here are few benefits of using cloud storage:
- You don’t need to purchase an extra hard disk drive to store your data. You can simply store it through cloud storage. It is your free online hard drive!
- Your computer may crash at any time and all of your data will be lost. But if you regularly sync it with cloud storage, your data always remain safe.
- You can access your data files like photos, music files and videos at any time and from any device with internet access.
Some free ways to store your data in the cloud:
You get 5GB of free cloud space when you sign up for the free plan. The best feature that I like about SugarSync is the automatic backup option. You can choose it to work in background and automatically backup your files to the cloud without your interference. Other great feature is that all of your files are transferred securely using TLS (Transport Layer Security) and are stored in the cloud in an encrypted format using 128-bit AES.
Dropbox stores up to 2GB of data for free (and up to 18GB if you make referrals) before you’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan. If you share folders with your employees, you receive extra storage space when they sign up. You can access the service just as you would any other file folder on your desktop, or you can use the free smartphone app to get to your files.
Box.net is another cloud service that I use the most. One great feature about Box.net is that you get a share link for your stored files and you can share the files among your friends. I use it to upload my Blogger templates, WordPress themes, thesis skins and other files that I offer for download on this blog. Another great feature is that you can share the folders with collaborators which means other people will be able to access, comment on, share and update all the files on the particular folder.
Although it doesn’t work as seamlessly with Windows as it does with the Mac platform, you can set up your PC to be part of iCloud. The service offers 5GB for free with the option to purchase an additional 10GB for $20 per year or up to an additional 50GB for $100 per year. When you purchase books, music, apps, or TV shows through iTunes, or you upload photos, it doesn’t count toward your storage space in iCloud. Because iCloud is made to integrate with your devices, there is no smartphone app. For users of Apple products, iCloud is perfect. For those outside the Apple ecosystem, consider one of the other cloud services.
Google Docs allows you to upload your files to the cloud with up to 1024MB storage space however an uploaded file or folder can be up to 1GB in size. If you are using Chrome or Firefox browser then you can simply drag and drop the files to Google Docs. You can also upload the folders directly. It allows you to share files and folders with friends, family members or colleagues.
Amazon Cloud Drive
Like Box, Amazon Cloud Drive offers 5GB of free space. You can store any type of media here, including documents, photos, music, and videos. An extra 20GB costs $10 per year — a great price compared with other platforms. Up to an additional 1,000GB of space can be purchased for $500 per year. It even integrates with the Kindle. You can access your drive online or install the free desktop app to reach files.
Why offer so much for free? At some point, your data is likely to outgrow the storage space that’s offered for free. After that, the companies are hopeful that you’ll upgrade to one of their monthly plans rather than scatter your data across various platforms.