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Published on April 23rd, 2013 | by Josephbker

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Inviting the Cloud Into Your Small Business

The smaller your office, the more confusing digital backup equipment and services may seem. Few small offices have tech staff or consultants available to explain all the choices available, ranging from plug-in backup drives and on-site servers to cloud computing services.

The cloud sounds so fluffy and inviting yet so confusing. Plus, like real clouds in the sky, it’s everywhere. Your data may be stored in servers housed in an office building down the street, across the continent or half way around the world.

The idea of backing up vital company information at remote servers may be as angst-inducing to a small business owner as driving a car backwards into ground fog.

Why the Cloud is Drifting Into Your Life

Some popular benefits of cloud services include:

—      Easy file sharing across a broad array of operating systems and platforms

—      Simultaneous distribution of messages and materials to multiple social media sites

—      Networking within the same building or with users faraway

—      Accessing software on the Internet instead of installing it on the office computers or server

However, the most important roles of cloud computing for many companies are remote backup of files and control of IT costs. Migrating company information and software access to the cloud decreases the need for on-site IT staff or consultants to maintain office equipment and software.

You store a mountain of data on your company’s computers, smartphones, tablets and other devices, whether you run a single-person business or a company with over a hundred employees.

The storage capacity of your equipment — let alone your ability to share information efficiently among the supporting personnel in your business — may be reaching its peak. However, before setting virtual foot in the cloud, you may wonder whether to shift all or some of your files, software access and avenues of communication to remote servers.

Hybrid Solutions

Some small businesses prefer a hybrid solution in which they don’t rely on a single method of data storage. These cautious businesses mix local and cloud solutions as well as maintaining some of their information on discs stored away from the office yet nearby at a secure site.

Mixing backup solutions gives you a mix of the benefits of all methods, while mitigating the risks. An office that’s only protected by portable backup drives and flash drives — items that are easily lost or stolen — is especially at risk of catastrophic data loss.

In January 2013, inadequate backup and security became big news when a Canadian governmental agency discovered the disappearance of a backup drive containing student loan and identity information for half a million Canadians. Even worse, nobody discovered the loss until after a flash drive — containing governmental information about another 5,000 Canadians — went missing.

Remote

Aside from increased sources of affordable backup, cloud services offer flexibility in telecommuting. You and your employees can work remotely, because you can stay in touch with your staff and other business associates over great distances.

The cloud makes it possible to connect to the Internet wherever, whenever and with whatever digital object is at hand whether you’re sipping coffee in a Parisian café or dancing on the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras. Not bad.

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