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Is Cloud Storage The Safest Bet For Business?

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Cloud technology providers like Amazon and Rackspace are betting on businesses moving their data for security reasons. The theory goes that the provider takes on the risk for you, that your data will be secure and accessible when you need it. The cloud is a marvelous concept for businesses that will enable productivity on a scale not seen before, but should businesses rely solely on the concept?

Uptime

Uptime is a unique concern for cloud storage that standard on-site storage doesn’t necessarily contend with. Files stored in a server in your building may still be subject to network up and down time, but with cloud services your files are stored off site. If there is an outage, or if something goes wrong, you may not have access to those files until service is restored. That is regardless of the state of your network. Most cloud providers come with some form of uptime guarantee, but the argument can be made that you don’t want to rely on a guarantee to keep your data secure and accessible.

Customer Support

However, on-site storage has maintenance issues of its own that cloud storage is largely provided for. Things like updates and various server functions may require dedicated staff to perform if you do not know how to use the hardware. Cloud providers largely fill this function for you, and include those costs as part of the tab that you pay. That’s why you can often rent space for cheap, because your requirements are low and the risk of maintaining you is equally low.

However, be warned that some cloud providers are still in the fledgling stage and while the rates may be low it could reflect poor customer service. Wherever possible, read up on reviews for brands to see what others are saying about their hosting services.

Speed

Aside from uptime, you need to be sure that your cloud service is capable of delivering a secure connection quickly. Data transfers from remote locations should be a breeze, and your site should be responsive. You can add “_trackPageLoadTime” to your Analytics code, and Google will report the speed of your web page within Analytics. Use this measurement to determine the effectiveness of your server’s connection. With Google’s emphasis on speed, you can improve your site’s load time with a few tricks:

·  Size images instead of using percentages (a definitive size decreases page load time, include a link to high definition shots)

·  Condense style sheets

·  Load content first

These will help push your site loading time a bit further than the capability of your server by condensing portions of your site.

Accessibility

The major disadvantage to on-site storage is that it can be difficult to configure access points for users to work with data off site. Not every business has this challenge as many maintain employees in the building, but the cloud provides universal access to almost any device for those with remote workers. This also enables workers to work more effectively from home or from off-site.

Safety and Security

Like any point of access, security must be drilled and maintained if your data is to remain safe. While cloud technology is a new idea, it will be a good idea to invest in business antivirus software and have users choose custom passwords before using it. If a user’s terminal is infected, you should limit his connectivity to the network. With enterprise software, you can set monitors that watch a terminal’s activity and scan when heightened activity is sensed. That way you can enforce security without relying on the user to do so.

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Sara Stringer

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