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Unit 2, 10 Kam Close
Morisset Industrial Park NSW 2264,
Australia

49705842

All-weather labels, tags and signage. 
Water-proof. Long-lasting.

Cloud Storage Solutions

Green Geek

Dr Joseph Sweeney has a long history in horticultural labelling, barcode and supply chain management.  He has worked extensively with both public and private sector organisations on a broad range of technology initiatives, including electronic document interchange (EDI), the Greater China region’s adoption of EAN barcodes and product identification numbers, e-commerce, software design and project management.

Since working on the development of TyTags’ initial labelling solutions more than 30 years ago, Joseph has been actively involved in supply chain management issues throughout the Asia Pacific and Australasian region.  Most recently, he spearheaded the development of Australia’s first just-in-time colour digital labelling solution for horticulture and environmental uses.

Better known in horticultural circles as the Green Geek, Joseph writes a monthly article published in Hort Journal Australia  identifying and demystifying  IT from the perspective of growers and nursery managers.

In addition to his role within the family business, Joseph is also an advisor with Intelligent Business Research Services, the largest independent Australian technology advisory and research firm. At IBRS, he guides clients in the planning, selection and deployment of new technologies.

 

Cloud Storage Solutions

Kascha Sweeney

 

How much data and digital files have you accumulated over the years: letters & documents, business spreadsheets, presentations, images and logos, idea boards, photos, and even music and videos? Keeping data from the conception of your business up to present day takes up massive amounts of data storage and you almost certainly had to buy larger hard drives as your business grew. You have probably gone through quite a few time consuming software and hardware updates as well. You’ve also likely saved your files onto CDs, portable hard drives or thumb drives and stashed those away for safe keeping – often in a shoebox inside a locked cabinet. In short, you got important (historic and current!) business data scattered all over the place.

If the above sounds like yourself, you are not alone. Many small businesses struggle with “data management.”

In the bad old days – say five or  six years ago – the only real option for small businesses was to constantly buy ever larger hard drives and additional external storage disks. This did not solve the problem of ever-growing data, it just moved it into physical “boxes” that had to be stored somewhere safe. But business information quickly became a physical asset to be recorded. Of course, this meant that the information was difficult to locate, and also susceptible to being lost or damaged, or even stolen!

The good news is that there is now an alternative to this data management dilemma for small businesses. Yes, the cloud. Or specifically, “cloud storage solutions.”

What are cloud storage solutions?

Cloud storage solutions are virtual digital data stores - sort of ‘hard disks in cyberspace.’ You can think cloud storage services as having your own infinite sized data bank where you can make a deposit or withdrawal from anywhere, anytime.

There are many advantages of cloud storage over the more traditional approaches. First is that cloud storage solutions are “scalable.” This means that as your data storage grows, the data storage space that you have in the cloud grows as well. Better still, you only pay for what you use. As your business grows, you simply purchase more space. While this sounds fairly ho-hum, the real benefit is that all of your business information can sit in one location,a location that will grow as your business data grows. This means you don’t need to buy additional disks, or save information on external drives. No longer is your business information scattered on a variety of different media in different locations and among different staff! By keeping all the information in one location, it is easier to locate files should they be required. It is also a fantastic way of demonstrating your business’s value (for example should you be considering to sell your business or when bringing in business partners). In short, having all your data in a single location allows you to manage and control your data.

Another huge benefit of cloud storage solutions is “data protection.” Cloud storage solutions backup your data onto multiple servers in different locations. You don’t need to know how this happens, it just works behind the scenes. This means that nothing gets lost during software upgrades, maintenance, repairs, or even natural disasters.  The good news is that managing the complexities of backup and ‘data resilience’ (that is, ensuring your data is never corrupted or lost) is offloaded to the cloud storage service provider, so you no longer have to trouble yourself with complicated data maintenance.

Another, often underrated, advantage of cloud storage solutions is “data availability.” Storing the data in the cloud means that you can access the data wherever there is an internet connection. That also makes it easier for file sharing and collaborative work.

Some things to consider

Of course, cloud storage is not without  its disadvantages.  The main concern for most people is data security. Having your data stored in the cloud might mean it is vulnerable to inspection by hackers or security services. If you deal in sensitive information (for example, research & development), you should carefully consider which information should not be put in the cloud… but all the rest should. Also, do not overestimate the security of keeping your data on-premises: cloud storage vendors are far more paranoid and far more skilled in security that anything your IT team could cobble together. Moving to a high-security, fully encrypted cloud storage provider, like DumpTruck, may actually improve your data security!  

Moving data to cloud storage can also create problems stemming from allowing too many people access your information: accidental deletion or changing of important files. The good news is that many (not all) cloud services include ‘version control’ for files, enabling you to ‘rollback’ any changes or deletions.   

The final disadvantage is that cloud storage requires that you have a good internet connection. If you are dealing with very large files, but only have a limited bandwidth internet connection, then working with cloud storage is going to be a horrible experience. Some cloud services get around this problem by only synchronising or backing up files at certain times of the day. For example, I have over a thousand gigabytes of data backed up with CrashPlan. Given the huge number of files involved, I’ve set the service to only ever backup files between 1:00am and 6:00am in the morning. This means that day-to-day usage of the network is not crippled by the cloud service sending and receiving big chunks of data. It all happens “off-peak.”

How to choose a cloud storage solution

There are many cloud storage solutions: to pick the right one, you have to first understand your needs. Ask yourself this: “Am I concerned with online storage & collaboration, synchronisation, backup, or archiving?”

 

“Online storage and collaboration” is when your data is made available in the cloud to make it easier to access for one or more people. Often, online storage is a key for allowing staff to be mobile and to collaborate from any location.

“Synchonisation” is where you want to ensure that one or more devices always have access to the exact same version of a set of files: if you make a change to a document on your laptop, the file will also change on your desktop computer.  Cloud storage solutions enable this by noticing every change you make to your files and sending the changes up to their servers, then replicating those changes back to all of the other devices you have connected to the service.

“Backup” is taking copies of your important files and putting them into an online vault, which ensures that even should your local computers die, you still can regain access to your file. Backup is a day-by-day process, or in my case, a night-by-night process. Unlike online storage, backup is not aimed at enabling many people to access working files - it’s about ensuring files are not lost should a disaster occur.

“Archiving” is like backup, but is meant for long term retention. With archiving, you are placing files you no longer need for day to day business into online storage just in case you need to refer to them in the future. For example, you may place backups of previous years accounting files into a cloud archive. The benefit of archiving is that it reduces ‘clutter’ in your work environment by removing unneeded files, but still keeps them available should they ever be required (for example, for a tax audit!)

Here are some of the most popular cloud storage providers in the market:

Cloud Storage Service Provider

Best Feature

SMB best plan:

Other plans:

Free Trial Period

Box

Online Storage & Collaboration

Great integration with Microsoft office programs. It also lets you combine online storage and workflow management. Plus, all the versions (Personal to Enterprise) give you access to Onecloud apps.

Starter: $5/user/mo (10 users max. 100 GB storage, 2GB file size)

Personal: Free (1 user, 10GB secure storage, 250MB file size)

Business: $15/user/mo (unlimited storage, 5GB file size)

Enterprise: $35/user/mo (unlimited storage, 5GB file size)

 

Carbonite

Backup & Archiving

Great for when you’re in a disaster prone area because Carbonite is all about backing up, securing, and disaster-proofing your files.

Personal Plus: $99.99/computer/yr

Personal Plans: starts at $59.99

Pro Plans: starts at $269.99

Server Plans: starts at $799.99

15 days

Code42 CrashPlan

Backup & Archiving

Perfect for people who can’t be bothered. Set it up and forget about it as it continuously backs up your files even unattended. It also keeps deleted files forever.

CrashPlanPro Business

CrashPlan+ Home: Free

CrashPlanPro Business: not available in all areas

CrashPlanProe Enterprise: $75 user/yr

30 days  

DropBox

Online Storage & Collaboration, Synchronisation

Dropbox is the most common and well known online storage solution, and also synchronises files between computers. It is fast and easy to use and also a feature that lets you restore previous versions. However, it can be very bandwidth hungry!

Business: $15/user/mo (unlimited storage)

Basic: Free (1 user, 2GB storage)

Pro: $9.99/user/mo (100GB)

 

GoldenFrog

DumpTruck

Online Storage & Collaboration

If you are paranoid, then Dump Truck is for you. It has a major emphasis on security, using bank-grade encryption and European (Switzerland) servers. It is also bundled with “Virtual Private Network” technology, so even your network gets encrypted.

5 GB: Free

50GB: $4.99 user/mo

100GB: $9.99 user/mo

200GB: $19.99 user/mo

500GB: $49.99 user/mo

 

Google Drive

Online Storage & Collaboration, Synchronisation

You can share and collaborate on any kind of file on Google Drive (docs, images, music, videos). The free plan gives you 15GB and anything created in Google Docs does NOT count against your storage cap. Great for when you’re already a Google fan.

15 GB: Free

100GB: $1.99/mo

1TB: $9.99/mo

10TB: $99.99/mo

20TB: $199.99/mo

30TB: 299.99/mo

 

Microsoft OneDrive

Online Storage & Collaboration

Microsoft OneDrive is Microsoft’s very own cloud storage service - great for Microsoft fans and Windows users. Mircrosoft recently announced OneDrive users would get a whopping 1TB storage!

Business: $2.50/user/mo (25GB now but promises 1TB storage) ***Price alert: pricing has been slashed from $5/user/mo to $2.5/user/mo.

Basic: Free (1 user, 7GB)

 

Mozy

Synchronisation, Backup & Archiving

Mozy has a file sync service (Mozy Stash) that syncs files between multiple devices and has a DVD Recovery Option where they copy your data on to a hard disk and ship it to you.

MozyPro: 9$9.99/month (10GB)

MozyHome: $5.99/month (%)GB)

MozyEnterprise: contact

30 days

*MozyPro only

SOS Online BackUP

Backup & Archiving

SOS Online Backup is serious about securing your files with “military grade” automatic online backup. The feature called ForeverSave means all data will be available forever including version history.

Busines Plan: $69.99/mo (file size limit 250GB)

Personal Cloud: $3.58/mo

Family Cloud: $16.11/mo

SOS Business: $199.99/month (file size limit 500GB)

14 days

SpiderOak

Backup & Archiving

Another service for paranoid people. SpiderOak encrypts your information using “keys” that only you have.

Professional: $10/user/mo (100GB)

Basic: Free (2GB)

Blue SMB and Blue Enterprise business plans are coming soon.

 

SugarSync

Synchronisation

SugarSync makes it almost effortless to sync and share files between multiple devices, and allows you to recover any previous versions of a file even deleted ones.

Individual: 60GB $7.49/mo

Individual: $9.99/mo (100GB)

Individual: $24.99/mo (250GB)

Business: $55/mo (1000GB)

Business: custom

30 days