Even if your business is outfitted with the most robust servers containing terabytes of network storage, you could still benefit from using consumer cloud-storage services for stashing files, syncing folders on multiple computers, and collaborating with colleagues.
Services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and SkyDrive make it easy to share files among departments, teams, individual employees, and outside contractors. Each service offers a set amount of storage for free, and you can purchase more as you need it. These services are particularly useful for special projects: Rather than granting network access across the board, you can create a folder in the cloud, store only the documents everyone needs for that project, and then share that folder with the people involved in the project. And for sending large files, cloud storage is more convenient than email, which typically caps the size of attachments.
Cloud storage also helps you keep files synchronized between your home base of operations, traveling staffers, and remote employees. This arrangement can save your IT team from creating secure VPN (virtual private network) connections and setting up secure remote-sharing capabilities on your corporate network. All you have to do is stash important files in your cloud storage and grant access to other people on an as-needed basis. Traveling or remote employees will have access on any device--PC, tablet, or smartphone--from anywhere they have Internet service.
Setting up such cloud services is as easy as providing an email address, downloading a small app, and establishing sharing permissions. That's a lot easier than configuring arcane connection settings on each person's computer, tablet, and smartphone.
Next Page: Online Backup
How much irreplaceable data resides on your business's computers? How will you recover that data if the machines suffer a catastrophic failure or are lost or stolen? That data is vulnerable even if you're automatically backing up the drives to a local server or NAS box--what happens if a fire, flood, or other disaster hits your location, and you lose both the original and the backup?