Storing data locally on your device has been the obvious way to save photos, documents, and videos for a while now. However, the trade-off with storing data locally is that it can get compromised if your device is damaged or stolen. This is an even bigger concern for people who work from home or operate a small business.
This is where cloud storage comes in. Platforms like Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and iCloud are excellent for backing up and storing data off-site. But before you go and invest in any of these solutions, you should consider your needs carefully to make the right decision. From security to customer service, here’s what you should consider before buying a cloud storage solution.
1. Capacity and Collaboration Features
In the interest of saving a few bucks, you can easily make the mistake of underestimating your storage needs. Do you only plan on securely storing your photos, or do you need a platform that can store your important business files? Both use cases are completely different and will require different levels of capacity.
You’ll also want to make sure that you can easily and quickly share files with colleagues or friends and family. If you’re buying a storage solution for your team, make sure it supports collaboration features. You should be able to comment, restrict or give access to certain files, and tag other users with relative ease.
2. Security and Privacy
Security and privacy should be your top priorities if you are dealing with sensitive data. Look for services that offer end-to-end encryption. This ensures that only you have access to the data and the provider or any third party can’t read your files.
Make sure that the data is also encrypted when it’s transferred between your device and the cloud service. Make sure you understand how encryption protocols like TSL and SSL work, as they are important to your storage security.
3. Pricing and Plans
Services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and even iCloud offer almost the same features. The difference comes down to security, ecosystem, and most importantly, pricing. You should be skeptical about any hidden charges, so make sure that the pricing plans are transparent. Most of these hidden charges apply when you exceed storage limits.
Another important thing to remember is that these cloud storage provides will emphasize certain plans over others. For example, many of them will say that their “premium plan” is the best value. This isn’t always the case, as you can often get away with the free plan or the starter plan. By simply buying the amount of storage you’ll actually need, you can prevent a lot of overspending.
4. Backup Facility
Most people buy cloud storage because they get more room to store important files. However, it’s just as important that the service you go for has robust backup and data recovery features. Backups should be regular and automatic, so you can recover any form of lost data with ease.
You should also be able to pick and choose which files you want to back up on a regular basis. Certain services will let you back up data from other apps, and you can manually set how often you want that data to be backed up. A lot of provides also offer data recovery plans, which can help you recover files that were lost because of server issues or a bad drive.
5. Syncing Features
The best thing about cloud computing is that you can work on any type of file remotely from any device. While cloud storage is different from cloud computing, it offers the same benefit. Most cloud storage solutions feature multi-device syncing, which means you can access your data from nearly any device.
However, there are exceptions to this. For example, while you can sync your iCloud data to a Windows PC, it requires a separate app that may be a bit buggy. Look for a cloud storage solution that backs up and syncs your data in real-time across different devices. You never know when you’ll need to send a file from your phone, and you could be in trouble if your files don’t sync between devices.
6. Customer Support
It’s important that the cloud storage provider you’re planning to have has a strong communication channel. You could run into technical problems, account or billing issues, or even security breaches. In all these scenarios, you should be able to seek technical assistance as soon as possible.
If the cloud storage service experiences downtime or outages, you may need to contact customer support to get updates on the situation, estimated resolution times, and any workarounds.
A trick here is to test the customer support of a cloud storage service before you’ve purchased it. Simply head over to the website of the service provide that you’re considering, and look out for the customer support chat icon. Click it and try to get in touch with an agent. This will tell you a lot about their expediency in solving customer’s issues.
Another thing you can do is read reviews. While they will help you out in judging how well a cloud storage service is in general, too, they will also tell you how the provider responded to issues customers faced.
7. User-Friendly Interface
You’ll be interacting with your cloud storage service on a daily basis, so a friendly and easy user interface is important. The interface should have a well-designed dashboard that shows your storage usage, recent files, and backup information. You should also be able to easily drag and drop files from your computer directly to the interface.
Look out for effective search filters and sorting. Robust search functionality helps you quickly locate specific files or folders within your cloud storage, even if you have a large volume of data. Filters help with sorting the files by type, date, size, and date, so you can easily manage various different files. Other than that, make sure that you get timely notifications about file sharing, updates, and storage limits to stay informed.
Cloud Storage Is the Future
Cloud storage gives us a look into what’s possible with remote collaboration and file-sharing services. Being able to send a couple of gigabytes worth of files with a simple link is nothing short of incredible. As long as you know what to look for, you shouldn’t have any trouble choosing a reliable cloud storage provider.
A lot of these solutions are scalable, cost-effective, and provide enhanced security. Considering that, it’s sometimes more reliable to have important information stored in the cloud. It’s definitely more reliable than a hard drive that could eventually stop working. Better security and reliability are just a few of the benefits that you get with cloud computing.