Ease of access from multiple devices
If you are saving documents or any kind of data files on your local hard disk, may that be a PC, Mac, phone, tablet or laptop, those files will be limited to that particular device. Accessing that information from another machine, e.g., while travelling and using a laptop rather than the clunky PC at the home office, requires transferring the information manually from one machine to the other, by means of a USB key, or sending by email, and other rather more elaborate and time-consuming ways.
Cloud storage allows access to electronic files from any device that gives you the option to connect to the cloud storage software through your login credentials. There are two main types of cloud storage:
Both systems have their strong points and drawbacks:
Data security concerns
Quite apart from the practical implications, and many of those depend on your operating system, your computer setup and specific needs to retrieve documents, you should never lose sight of the importance of data protection!
As business owners AND private persons we are held by data protection laws and should ensure at all times that not only information and files we have received from others (customers, friends and family) and their personal information (phone numbers, email addresses, mail addresses) are to be kept away from prying eyes.
In my opinion (and this is important, this is my personal opinion that many might contest) this kind of stuff should not be in cloud storage at all, simply for reasons of security and confidentiality. However, in the case of a business where multiple people have to share information or you are working from multiple devices, this is near impossible to achieve, unless you work in a secure local LAN network that has no internet access. Let’s face it: practically impossible. This means that we all have to look for ways to limit the possibilities for information leaks.
Cloud storage may claim to be secure, but then again: there is no clear place where your data is stored (it’s distributed somewhere in the cloud), so how could you even tell your data has been compromised?
It appears that the two subjects are closely connected and that easy access, data protection and peace of mind do not always go hand in hand. You may want to consider the following paragraphs before making your choices:
Files are not shared with others and do not need to be accessed from several devices
In this case, it’s probably best to stick to local folder clearly marked as “LOCAL ONLY” with a useful structure of subfolders to organise the files. Make regular backups of these files: they only exist once! Also keep in mind that your data is forever lost if something happens to your device.
Files are shared with others
There is a multitude of options to do this. Most businesses, and especially big ones, almost certainly maintain a local network. With a bit of an upgrade, these networks usually also use remote access options to allow for a flexible workforce, partially working off-site. Concerns similar to what was described above under “multiple devices” apply, especially where it comes to data security.
In conclusion, there seem to be two main concerns with regard to data storage in the cloud: accessibility, security and training needs. Adding more access routes to allow for diverse use of the data tends to decrease the security factor, and tightening down security limits access and sharing ability. Of course, there are ways to secure the data, but that involves a higher training factor to teach the work force how to access data, possibly change access settings to add access for others, etc.
It’s a balance act that needs to be negotiated for each business on its own terms and tailored to its particular needs and constraints, and that usually needs to involve an IT technician to ensure successful implementation and maintenance.
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My name is Tilo Flache and it is my mission to help my clients organise and declutter their work spaces.