Cloud storage is increasingly popular among both users with limited physical hard drive space, and those who are concerned about keeping their files safely backed up. It’s a trend that’s just as valuable for small business owners as it is for personal use. It’s bad enough losing personal photos, but data loss for a small business can cost a fortune for your firm.
We’ve checked out the best cloud storage services for your small business, evaluating what’s best depending on the size of your company, as well as any potential requirements you might have for how your data is accessed such as end-to-end encryption or two-factor authentication. Some cloud services even offer free storage for a limited time, or up to a certain amount of space. Products like Apple’s iCloud service, OneDrive, and Google Drive often provide free cloud storage up to a certain amount to get you started.
We also compiled a list of the best cloud storage services that are not specific to small businesses, but you’ll notice there is a lot of overlap.
Why should I use cloud storage over physical?
In an ideal world, we suggest having multiple backups for your critical files. Physical hard drives (such as via a NAS unit) are useful, but it’s also vital to have storage away from your physical premises at data centers, which is where cloud storage services are ideal.
Cloud storage offers:
- An easy-to-use backup source that can take seconds to set up, unlike setting up extra physical units.
- 24/7 access from any device, so you can just as easily check your work files via mobile apps and mobile devices, as you can a PC or Mac.
- Group access, so you don’t need to send files around to all your colleagues. You can simply set everyone up with individual accounts and work collaboratively with minimal effort via file sharing.
Here’s a look at some of the best cloud-based storage solutions out there.
One of the oldest cloud storage services out there, Dropbox is a popular service for millions of users. Its business side of things is just as proficient. DropBox Business starts with a 30-day free trial before increasing to $12.50 per user per month. For the price, you’re provided with 5TB of encrypted cloud storage space. Enterprise storage options are also available if you get in touch with Dropbox for more details for a customizable solution. In all cases, Dropbox Business utilizes 256-bit AES and SSL/TLS encryption, so your data is stored securely, away from prying eyes.
There’s no online editing tool here, but you can easily use it to sync files between users, with the option to rewind to old versions as and when needed. DropBox offers up to 120 days of file recovery so if you accidentally delete a file, it’s not a permanent move. It offers a user-friendly interface throughout.
Other features include Office 365 integration, an admin console with audit log, plus remote device wipe functionality in case of a device being lost or stolen. Two-factor authentication is also an option if you want extra security.
An extensive service all-around, DropBox Business isn’t the cheapest option out there, but it’s something that does everything you could want. The fact that many of your employees will have almost certainly used it before makes it all the simpler to switch to as well.
It’s likely that you and your employees already use Google services extensively — whether that’s through G Suite-based email addresses or even through Adsense accounts. So, it makes perfect sense to also use Google Cloud for Work/Business. It works as effortlessly as Google Drive does for personal accounts.
For $12 per user per month, you can sign up to its Business package which offers an enhanced office suite with unlimited storage and archiving functionality. If you require fewer than five users, each user gets 1TB of storage, but for larger small businesses, that storage becomes unlimited. If your needs are lesser then the $6-per-user-per-month package provides you with 30GB of storage and the same features.
It’s possible to edit files online directly, as well as go offline and edit a file before coming back online to sync up with other users in your team. Collaboration is near effortless with extensive features within Google’s suite of office tools including Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, saving you money as you can use these instead of dedicated Office packages.
In addition, you can set up your business email through Gmail, use its video and voice conferencing tools, as well as have shared calendars and team messaging services.
For Enterprise-level customers, $25 per user per month offers them all the same features including unlimited storage, plus there’s enterprise-grade access control with security key enforcement, and data loss prevention methods.
One of the greatest strengths for Microsoft’s competitor to Google Drive – Microsoft OneDrive for Business – is its price. For only $5 per user per month, you can have 1TB of cloud storage for each user. Through it, you can store files up to 15GB in size, and easily share files from within your organization as well as with other users. It’s easy enough to sync local copies of files or folders for offline viewing, and you can also edit these documents from a browser if you want.
The only real issue here is that while Microsoft OneDrive offers two-factor authentication, it still expects you to use the same password as your regular Microsoft password – something that you might not feel immediately comfortable with, but an issue that Google already has.
That’s all just available via the low price plan that Microsoft offers. Where things get even better is if you upgrade to Office365 Business Premium. For $12.50 per user per month, you get the same amount of cloud storage but you also have access to major Office applications including Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access, and Publisher. There’s also email hosting included with a 50GB mailbox, along with custom email domain addresses if you want.
Each license covers five PCs or Macs, five phones, and five tablets per user. There’s also support for video conferencing meetings for up to 250 people.
Cloud storage-wise – that package might not be the largest, but it does make for a compelling all-in-one deal that should suit the vast majority of users. If unlimited cloud storage is vital, you can always switch over to a plan that costs $10 per user per month for unlimited storage but offers no access to Office applications.
A significant name in the cloud storage world, Box for Business is just as good for small businesses as it is for personal use.
If your team is particularly small, then the Starter package at $5 per user per month is ideal. It offers 100GB of storage with a 2GB file upload limit. A minimum of three users need to be signed up, with a maximum of 10 possible. For the price, you get mobile access, as well as details about version history, two-factor authentication, and the ability to access files from your desktop.
Upgrade to the Business plan for $15 per user per month, and the features get even better. There’s unlimited storage, as well as an unlimited number of users, with a 5GB file upload limit. There’s also advanced user and security reporting, data loss prevention, plus Active Directory and Single Sign-On integration. Custom branding is also an option here.
In both cases, there’s the option for Office 365 integration, but much like Dropbox, there’s no direct online editing available.
Still, Box for Business is an advanced package for small businesses that offers plenty of features while still being simple enough for the majority of users to adjust to in no time.
A new contender for the cloud storage services throne is Tresorit. The service is keen to pivot itself as a direct rival to Dropbox, by being far more secure. It allows you to share individual large files with password-protected links, as well as all the standard syncing and file-sharing features you’d expect from a cloud service.
Based in Switzerland, Tresorit offers zero-knowledge end-to-end encryption which should satisfy even the most privacy-conscious user. It stays compliant will all key regulations such as HIPAA and the GDPR. There’s ransomware protection baked into its interface, and you can easily control user and device permissions centrally at all times.
It’s simple to access your files from any device too, plus there’s offline access for editing files when it’s convenient for you. You can even add branding to the Tresorit interface if you want.
The small business package includes a 14-day free trial with the price, then increases to $20 per user per month for up to nine people, with 10 or more working out at $12 per user per month. It’s more expensive than many competitors but for an extra secure service, it’s worth the price.
For your other business needs, including best VPNs for small businesses and best antivirus software solutions for small businesses, we’ve got you covered.
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