A few years ago, this type of phrase would make someone think your business was doing very well, or soaring to new heights. Today, however, ‘The Cloud’ takes on an entirely new meaning. What is the meaning, exactly? The Cloud refers to data storage that allows you to access files from anywhere because they are not saved on a hard drive anywhere, but rather in the web based “Cloud.” Forms, files, and data from anywhere can be accessed because you have an online connection. Not only can you retrieve this information, but you can easily share selected files/folders with team members, clients, or potential customers. If you are a newbie to this type of technology, ehow
has a great post to help you learn more.
If you are familiar with Cloud technology but have not implemented it for team usage, you are missing out! Full utilization of this software will reduce the clutter in your inbox, give you faster processing on time sensitive deadlines, and improve team delegation and collaboration. Perhaps you are using it as back up and/or storage, but your competitors are starting to use it to increase sales and service. How many times have you ‘lost’ an email, or forgot about it? Have you assigned projects out, but the person assigned did not have all of the tools to get started or do the job correctly? Did customers or clients feel a disconnect between you and your staff because your staff does not have access to all of the data? Enter your Cloud software, and watch efficiency, speed, reduction in email and utilization of systems come to life.
We have summarized the top providers in the industry, who have a large portfolio of clients who are a testimony to their security, reliability, and service.
Dropbox Dropbox is a 10 when it comes to security and ease of use.
4Sync 4Sync appears to be a cousin to Dropbox, but on a simpler level.
- Security: They use the same security encryption methods as the banking industry, and use Amazon’s S3 service for storage, which has its’ own security in place.
- What do users LOVE about Dropbox? Easy set up. Sync multiple computers/devices/users with the click of a button. Automatic back-up and syncing. Drag and Drop – effortless. No issues between PC’s and Mac’s. Team pricing for large groups/offices. Good support for upgraded subscribers. (Basic is free).
- Drawbacks? Consumers mainly complain about pricing, but if this is your business, isn’t reliability and storage something you should not compromise on? If you will be sharing files with non-team members, ensure you read up on usage guides and instructions, as it would be easy to share confidential data if you don’t know what you’re doing.
- Best feature? Unlimited growth features. Dropbox has a free account for the newbie, a Pro Account for the advanced user, and Team accounts for those who are expanding and want to invite more members to share in the data.
Box Box offers a cloud system that can easily grow with any business, and the business will not outgrow it.
- Security: At the time this post was written, we could not find 4Sync’s security information. As soon as they reply to our email request for this information, we will publish it.
- What do users LOVE about 4Sync? Ease of use, super-fast set up. Up to 15GB of free storage. Fast synchronization, fast download speeds.
- Drawbacks? Currently only available to Windows/PC users, Mac version still in beta. Premium limited to 100 GB.
- Best Feature? Free option gives you more storage than Dropbox, but paid option does not give you as much storage. Very user friendly for the individual or entrepreneur who wants to share information with collaborators.
- Security: Box touts encryption on all files; but a comparison article states the files themselves are only encrypted on the upgraded Enterprise account. Technically defined as 256-bit SSL.
- What do users LOVE about Box? Box users love the upload speed and team collaboration tools. Easy to use Blog for learning about features and options. Integrates with Salesforce, NetSuite, and more.
- Drawbacks? Identified as the priciest option out of all three, does not support as many apps as the competition.
- Best Feature? Growth potential, ease of use for non-subscribers to join a folder/file, granular control over who views and edits files.
It’s easy to get distracted by extras and features you may or may not use, so if you have not selected your product yet, keep these key points in mind:
- Most products offer a ‘free’ version. This is your opportunity to test the software to see if you like it, and if it works for your needs. However, don’t choose the software based on how much free storage it gives you. Most of these services have upgraded customer service support with the paid versions, so evaluate the cost of each paid version and the maximum storage limits when making your choice. It will be much easier to upgrade your existing plan than it will be to transfer files to another service at a later date.
- Pay attention to the reviews. Each product site lists different information, and it’s easy to miss something that is very important to your business. Check out sites like CNET, TopTenReviews, and Epinions. You can also find comparison articles at The Verge, USA Today, ZDNet & Decision Stats. Use caution when seeking out comparisons on your own, as there are many dated articles available, and Cloud software has changed dramatically over the past 5 years.
We’ve highlighted these three products because they have high levels of security, boast a large following of corporate clients, and have been around for a while. For a larger list of Cloud Service providers, check out this blog post
by ars technica.
Do you have a success story to share when you implemented your Cloud system? We welcome your comments.