How safe is my data in the cloud?

There are a wide range of IT issues that businesses must keep up with, including the security of their infrastructure. There’s disaster recovery, data management, and ensuring everything is backed up effectively, not to mention how reliable the service is. Many SMBs are starting to use cloud-based remote servers because they are affordable, convenient, and flexible.

But the question most people want answered is this: Is it safe?

Move from server data storage to the cloud

There was a time, not long ago, when we stored our files “safely” on hard drives. Businesses use site server data storage to save important files and documents. The problem is that we need more and more storage space and more flexibility, and the old ways no longer provide everything we need. Cloud storage is becoming the solution to many data access and storage problems for a wide range of businesses.

The benefits of the cloud

* You can access it from anywhere and store a large amount of data and files. In fact, with the help of the cloud, you can conduct your business on any device with something like a virtual desktop.

* It comes at a lower cost, freeing up budgets for more important things like product development. You typically pay a monthly fee that may be just for data storage or a more nuanced IT provision like disaster recovery.

* You don’t have to worry as much about downloading security updates because everything is handled for you. That means your data is kept safe in a secure environment.

* Comes with IT support saving you the cost of hiring someone full time and paying them a salary. In other words, you only pay for what you need.

The downside of the cloud

Moving data from one place to another and entrusting your IT operations to a remote server raises a number of security concerns. How is your data encrypted? Who has the keys? Does your cloud provider share your information with third parties? What happens if your cloud provider suddenly stops providing?

A cloud service may be operating in a different country and therefore subject to different laws or restrictions (or lack thereof). Even if they are operating in your country, there is no reason why they cannot suddenly up and move to another place, taking their data with them.

Many of these problems arise particularly when companies use free services that have to find ways to make money other than by charging for their provision. Using the cloud, with its built-in security measures, doesn’t mean you’re safe from hackers, either: most of the old rules still apply, particularly about having a strong password and changing it regularly.

The solution is to choose the right cloud provider that is specifically targeted at businesses.

How to choose the right cloud storage provider

As with most things, it’s worth shopping around, but there are some common services that a good cloud storage provider should offer:

* A monthly subscription which means you only pay for what you get.

* Effective data backups on a regular basis and a disaster management facility.

* Local encryption and decryption of files so they are stored securely in the cloud.

* Access your data and applications anywhere in the world, whether you’re traveling, in a hotel, or at a conference. In fact, anywhere there is Wi-Fi or Internet connection.

There is no doubt that the benefits of cloud storage far outweigh any negatives. While security and file backup are an issue, finding the right provider means you can be sure you’re getting the best service and all bases are covered. That means asking the right questions, doing your research, and of course, reading the user agreement carefully.

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