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Small business owners and startup founders generally pride themselves on being up-to-date on the latest tech trends. However, many are still unwilling to embrace cloud technology for basic business functions such as email and file storage. They often write cloud computing off as too complicated or not secure, but that simply isn’t the case.
I’d like to debunk a few of the myths surrounding cloud-based computing so more businesses feel comfortable leveraging the power of the cloud.
What Is the Cloud?
First, let’s talk about what cloud computing is. Storing things in “the cloud” is a nebulous concept, but really, cloud-based operations encompass any computing application that is completely Internet-based. If you’ve ever used Gmail, for instance, you’ve taken advantage of the cloud.
Taking an entire business’ operations into the virtual realm can be daunting, and many business owners think their non-cloud-based setup works just fine. They may view transitioning to the cloud as more hassle than it’s worth. But there are several benefits to cloud computing:
- Cloud storage makes it easy to share large or sensitive files securely.
- The cloud allows you to collaborate on a single document, easily manage file permissions, and share and update documents without worrying about duplicate or outdated versions.
- The cloud makes it simple to back up your system, which prevents data loss.
- The cloud leads to less storage waste because you’re not storing multiple copies of files locally.
Despite these clear advantages, the prospect of switching over to the cloud all at once can be overwhelming. But there are many cloud-based systems that small business owners can benefit from, and it can be less intimidating to start with one and branch out. Here are a few you can try:
- Cloud-based file storage and sharing systems: This is the most commonly used cloud system for small businesses. Services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Box are beginning to take the place of file and FTP servers. These services also allow for expanded remote access and can support multiple users.
- Cloud-based email hosting: With services such as Gmail and Microsoft’s Office 365, there’s no reason to host your own email server. These services let you use your company’s domain name and can easily handle companies with more than 5,000 employees.
- Worldwide phone systems: No one wants to deal with the hassle and cost of telecom companies that provide mediocre service. With cloud technology, you can get a VoIP telephone system for as little as $20 per month. It works worldwide, and your customers will never know the difference.
- Cloud servers: Businesses are now able to get up and running more quickly than ever, thanks to cloud hosting services such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Azure. Getting rid of fixed servers saved my business thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of labor.
How to Make Your Data Safe in the Cloud
The recent security breaches from major companies such as eBay and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro have put security at the forefront of business owners’ minds — and for good reason. A data breach can destroy a company’s reputation and even drive it out of business.
Cloud computing takes physical security out of a business owner’s control, which can be a scary thought. While security should be your No. 1 priority, there are some very simple steps business owners can take to ensure their cloud-based businesses remain safe and secure.
- Encrypt your data for ultimate protection. If you decide to take advantage of cloud-based solutions, make sure your data is encrypted so if a breach does occur, hackers can’t decipher your data. If you don’t have the ability to encrypt your data in-house, make sure your cloud provider is encrypting it for you.
- Choose strong passwords for all of your accounts. It doesn’t have to be some convoluted sequence of characters you’ll likely forget. Strong passwords consist of at least 15 characters and should be something you can easily remember. You should never use the same password for all your accounts.
- Choose a reputable cloud service provider. Nothing is worse than losing data or having unforeseen downtime because your provider is unreliable. Review your uptime records to ensure your service is doing a good job of keeping your business running.
Moving your entire business to the cloud and trusting something you don’t have direct control over can be a difficult transition. However, cloud-based storage frees up your time to focus on revenue-producing activities and saves you money. Isn’t it time you made the switch?
Tim Maliyil is the CEO and Data Security Architect for AlertBoot. AlertBoot protects customers from data breaches that damage their credibility, reputation, and business. The company’s managed full disk encryption, email encryption services, and mobile security services deploy within minutes to customers’ PCs, smartphones, and tablets, providing tremendous insight, visibility, and control.View Tim Maliyil`s profile for more