Advantages of Cloud Storage

Dear Professor Bruce: At my bookkeeping firm, I have lots of important data on my computer server. I know I need to backup the server files but am confused about what method is best. I’ve heard that making a copy of the files on an external hard drive plus backing it up “to the cloud” is a smart strategy. Can you help me understand this better?

To enlighten us about the advantages of cloud storage for small business owners, I consulted Mike Nikzad, chief operating officer of the Iomega Corporation. He said that digital data is indeed the lifeblood of today’s small business – and the loss of data (customer files, business operations, and so forth), even for a brief amount of time, could prove to be trying if not fatal.

Keeping you original files on your business server makes sense; backing up those files to a removable external hard drive that’s taken offsite – away from the potential loss from a fire, flood, or the like – is another good way to keep a backup copy. But remember, new files continue to be created and existing files often change. You have to continue to save your business files to that external hard drive on a regular basis to keep true backup copies.

Today, cloud storage offers another way to backup important files remotely that can be easily accessible anywhere you have an internet connection. However, there are caveats, including private cloud and public cloud alternatives:

• Private cloud: In a private (or internal) cloud installation, a company installs its own server and storage hardware, and has the flexibility to shift workloads among servers to account for usage spikes or new applications. Though more secure, the need to purchase servers and software can make a private cloud costly. Businesses such as bookkeeping firms like yours often operate in regulated compliance environments typically choose internal private clouds – if they can afford it.

• Public cloud: Public cloud companies, like Amazon Web Services and Mozy, appeal to small companies and others that want to immediately start using storage and other services via an online portal. Creating an account with a public cloud company eliminates the need for onsite servers, operating systems, and support staff. Here again, a word of caution: the more you store in the cloud, the more that storage capacity costs. Pricing typically starts at around eight cents per gigabyte of stored data in the cloud. Depending on your storage needs, you can see the cost increase quickly. Focus on business critical files that need to be backed up in multiple places.

For further information, please visit www.iomega.com.

E-mail questions to Bruce@Smallbusinessprofessor.com.

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