Backing up your business data is painful, yet necessary. It can only take a small event to cause a lot of trouble.
If the wrong data - tax records, client lists, important emails - are lost, it can really damage your operations. So what to do? In the past, backups were very painful. They needed a lot of time and careful copying to drives, tapes or CDs. These are expensive in time and money, yet they don’t do a good job. Copies can erode and fail, plus there is no easy way to access the data you stored away. The cloud has the answer: online backup or ‘cloud drive’ services. These are inexpensive, easy to use and offer great ways to access your archives. It’s good enough that any business, even one-person shops, shouldn’t go without a cloud backup strategy.
What to look for in cloud storage
There are several things to consider when choosing a cloud drive service:
- Purpose: Do you want to make file backups or share files with others? Do you need the files to be easily accessible?
- Price: How much are you willing to pay for a cloud drive service? Are you willing to pay monthly or annually?
- Capacity: How much space do you need for your storage? For example, getting terabytes of storage sounds great, but if you don’t fill it up reasonably fast you’ll waste money.
- Sharing: Do you need sharing features that let others access the files? Do you need this sharing to be highly secure or more casual?
- Security: What level of security do you need? For example: if you are storing the private information of other people, you’ll need a service that is GDPR or POPI compliant.
- Applications: What kind of applications do you need? For example, you might want to run a desktop app to automatically create backups or you want an app for your phone.
- Connectivity: What type of online connection will you use to make backups? For example, Uploads using mobile data is fast on LTE, but can become costly, while ADSL is cost-effective but slow to upload. Fibre is by far the best.
Choosing a cloud drive service
There are quite a lot of cloud drive services, but they don’t all offer the same features. Here are some of the top ones to pick from and decide:
OneDrive is a standard part of the Microsoft Office365 world. It’s the central storage on which your email and documents are placed. Offering 1 terabyte, it’s also one of the most generous of the cloud drive options, but you have to share that storage with the other Office365 applications. This can make it confusing to organise and manage files. Yet OneDrive does have a search feature, making it easier to find files. Storing your emails and documents on it also means you don’t have to actually back up anything you do inside Office365.
OneDrive offers excellent sharing and user management tools, plus every employee with an Office365 account has access to their own 1 terabyte capacity as well as sharing/admin tools. OneDrive has apps for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS, as well as the main web browser interface.
Bottom line: OneDrive offers a lot of storage per user and good management tools even at the cheapest tiers. But you have to share the space with your other Office365 services.
Dropbox is one of the most widely-used cloud storage services, yet not really for backups. It is more popular for its nice sharing features and the fact that nearly all of us have a Dropbox account. In other words, this remains one of the best choices for places that frequently share and collaborate with files.
It’s also easy to share files or folders with someone who doesn’t have a Dropbox account. Dropbox includes Paper, a collaboration productivity tool, and Showcase, an easy way to make nice presentations from files. It should be noted that Dropbox is putting a lot of effort in sharing, collaboration and team management tools. Dropbox also integrates with many different services, even Office365 and G Suite.
There is a free tier that gives a little bit of storage. But you’ll need to pay to access 2 terabytes, 3 terabytes and unlimited storage. Dropbox has apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS, as well as the main web browser interface.
Bottom line: Dropbox has great file management, sharing and collaboration features, but isn’t the cheapest if you want a lot of storage.
Carbonite covers all your needs, no matter if you have a single computer or a fleet of servers. What makes it stand out is that you get unlimited storage even in the lowest tier. But you need to pay annually for the services. There are also other catches: the service limits how many machines can use an account and lower-tier accounts will download slower. Carbonite has a backup service to cover Office365.
As mentioned, all Carbonite accounts offer unlimited storage and they are charged annually. You can try a 15-day trial. Egnyte has apps for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS, as well as the main web browser interface.
Bottom line: Carbonite offers unlimited storage, but can become pricey if you have many machines.
Box was the first major cloud storage service and remains one of the best. Whether you want basic storage or sharing or GDPR coverage or advanced artificial intelligence features, Box has you covered. It is focused on file management and sharing, particularly among teams. In fact, Box is very strong for teams and actively targets the enterprise market. It’s meant to be used by more than one person.
There is no free tier for Box. The starting tier offers 100 gigabytes, but storage is unlimited for the other tiers. There are also different limits on the number of users per account. Box has apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS and Blackberry, as well as the main web browser interface. Apart from storage tools, it also has powerful file editing apps.
Bottom line: Box is a serious service with serious features meant for teams and not ideal for one person businesses.
Vodacom Business Cloud storage
Cloud computing is the practice of using a network of remote servers hosted on the Internet to store, manage, and process data. A cloud service is characterised by scalability, managed computer power, storage, platforms and services that are delivered on-demand; allowing consumers to provision computing capabilities such as server time and network storage. Cloud computing can be implemented as a private cloud, community cloud, public cloud or hybrid cloud. Accessing cloud services is network agnostic any type of network can be deployed, irrespective of technology mobile, satellite or MPLS.
Our Cloud Computing service approach follows the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s classification which has five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.