As an SMB owner with a focus on business goals rather than technical aptitude, you may find it challenging to keep up with new technology trends, including the sometimes complex topic of cloud storage. It’s 2023 though, and cloud-based solutions have become increasingly popular and essential for businesses of all sizes. A recent study by Gartner predicts that cloud adoption will continue to grow in the future; as of 2022, about 60% of all business data has been stored on the cloud. You may be familiar with (and even using) cloud-based solutions without realizing it.
These solutions, like Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms, offer many benefits, such as increased scalability, reduced costs, and improved collaboration, among others. It’s easy to see why small businesses are choosing online applications to store their data. If you didn’t already know, SaaS stands for Software as a Service, and it’s a model for using software where instead of installing an application on your computer, you access it over the internet. The software is hosted on servers maintained by a third-party service provider, and you pay for access to the software on a subscription basis, usually monthly or annually. Almost all small businesses have outsourced departments or departments that use digital tools, making you a cloud user – even if you didn’t know you were!
In fact, KPInterface is a cloud-based company, with even most of our backups on the cloud. Almost every department uses at least one Software as a Service platform, but we also have departments like our marketing department that use SaaS tools fully integrated into one another to create a seamless sales and marketing experience.
However, many small business owners are not aware of the importance of having a backup for their cloud-based data. Losing or accidentally deleting data without a backup can be devastating and costly for your business. Therefore, it is crucial to use a reliable backup solution to prevent data loss and ensure that your business runs smoothly.
Cloud storage is a powerful tool, but storing data in the cloud comes with certain risks, including the possibility of data breaches and loss of control over your data. In this post, we’ll explore the benefits and risks of cloud storage for small businesses and provide tips for keeping your data secure, as well as the concerns about fully switching to the cloud (though your questions should be more about when to do it rather than why since it is strongly recommended to stay apace with current competitors in your space).
So let’s get into why we, as a technology company, are suggesting to every single one of our clients that they fully migrate to the cloud. For example, all of our clients are serverless for their email backup – meaning everything is stored in the cloud, as of 2023.
Here are Some of the Biggest Benefits of Cloud Storage and Backup:
- Security: Americans have seen the rise of threat actors online in greater numbers in recent years, from IRS phone scams to ransomware attacks to the everyday phishing attempts in our email. Businesses know that protecting your data is critical, but cloud backup provides secure, off-site data storage that can be accessed from anywhere. By using a 3rd party to store data, businesses can be more confident that it is fully recoverable with cloud backup. A good 3rd party could (and should) have better protection than your business may have currently; including, but not limited to data encryption, multi-factor authentication, and access controls. If they are a large, trusted organization providing your applications, then they additionally will have stronger security and compliance standards. For example – storing your financials in Excel on your computer is fine, but not very secure. But comparison, using SharePoint to store your Excel and accessing via the web application is much more secure since Microsoft automatically backs up your typing every few seconds and can bring back earlier versions. The same can sometimes be said of a locally hosted fine, but not always.
- Scalability: As your business grows, your data also grows. Cloud storage is highly scalable, meaning businesses can easily increase or decrease their storage capacity as their needs change. With on-site storage, businesses may need to invest in new hardware or upgrade their existing infrastructure to accommodate additional storage needs – not so with cloud storage and backup. Again, this may be more feasible with certain departments rather than the entire data or file system in an organization. Try it on a small scale, test the costs of a subscription model and look at time saved and productivity and make decisions according to what’s best for your business.
- Manageability: Operating out of an online application allows you to centrally operate and monitor your backup system from a single location. This feature can save you time, especially when you have limited resources. This allows businesses to access their data from anywhere with an internet connection, whereas on-site storage may only be accessible from within the business’s physical location. This level of accessibility is especially important in today’s world, where remote work and collaboration are increasingly common.
- Reliability: Cloud storage services typically include automatic backups, which can be a huge relief for small business owners who don’t have the time or resources to manually back up their data. Automatic backups ensure that data is always protected and can be quickly restored in the event of a data loss or disaster – but make sure to ask each of your application suppliers about their data storage and backup policies before assuming your data is safe. Cloud storage providers typically offer high levels of reliability and uptime, with built-in redundancy and failover mechanisms to ensure data is always available. On-site storage, on the other hand, maybe more susceptible to hardware failures, power outages, and other issues that could lead to data loss or downtime. Cloud applications and storage should be looking pretty attractive about now, but we’ll give you one more reason why being in the cloud is king.
- Cost-Effective: With cloud storage, businesses only pay for the storage they use, and any department can easily scale up or down as their needs change. This is because cloud providers can leverage economies of scale to offer lower prices to customers. On-site storage for corporate data requires businesses to invest in expensive hardware, software, and IT personnel, which can often be a significant financial burden for smaller businesses. We’ve found that small businesses that might not have the resources to invest in expensive on-premise storage solutions are amazed at how, after a few years of success, can just add size to their cloud storage instead of having to go and buy a new server or new laptop to run a new program on.
To summarize, while there are risks associated with storing data in the cloud, it is still considered a better option than on-site storage for many businesses due to its cost-effectiveness, accessibility, scalability, reliability, and security. As with any technology, it is important for businesses to carefully weigh the pros and cons of cloud storage and take appropriate measures to mitigate any potential risks. That’s why we feel it is also pertinent to remind readers that there is also risk to storing data in the cloud using 3rd party providers (which virtually all cloud storage is. If AWS ((Amazon’s Web Services, Amazon’s cloud platform) goes down, then some of the biggest players in the game also go down – Netflix, Walt Disney, SAP, Sony, and more go down as well. Not to mention the smaller players like you or us).
Reasons to Carefully Vet Your Cloud Providers:
- Security: Surprise! One of the biggest pros to cloud storage is also the con. So it goes. One of the biggest risks associated with cloud storage is security. When data is stored in the cloud, it’s stored on servers owned and maintained by third-party providers. This means that businesses are entrusting their sensitive data to these providers, who may not have the same level of security as the business itself. There is always a risk of data breaches, which can result in the loss of confidential information and damage to a business’s reputation.
- Loss of Control: Another risk of cloud storage is the loss of control over your data. When you store data in the cloud, you are essentially giving up control over that data. You are relying on a third-party provider to store and protect your data, and you may not have the ability to access or control that data if the provider goes out of business or changes its terms of service.
Tips for Keeping Your Data Secure in the Cloud:
- Choose a Reliable Provider: The first step in keeping your data secure in the cloud is to choose a reliable provider. Look for providers that have a good reputation and a proven track record of keeping data secure. Check for certifications and standards of compliance, such as ISO 27001 and SOC 2, which demonstrate a provider’s commitment to security.
- Encrypt Your Data: Encrypting your data before uploading it to the cloud is another important step in keeping your data secure. Encryption ensures that even if your data is accessed by unauthorized parties, it will be unreadable without the encryption key. Make sure that your provider offers encryption as an option, and consider using additional encryption tools if necessary.
- Implement Two-Factor Authentication: Two-factor authentication is a simple but effective way to protect your data in the cloud. With two-factor authentication, users must provide a second form of identification, such as a code sent to their mobile phone, in addition to their username and password. This adds an extra layer of security and helps to prevent unauthorized access.
- Regularly Back Up Your Data: While cloud storage providers typically offer automatic backups, it’s a good idea to regularly back up your data within your organization as well. This ensures that you have an additional copy of your data in case of an outage or other disaster. Implementing these best practices and working with a reputable cloud provider will help small businesses safeguard their data and operate with confidence in the cloud. By taking proactive steps to secure their cloud data, small businesses can focus on what really matters—growing their business and serving their customers.
If you are unsure where to start with cloud backup, an IT service provider can assess your needs and suggest the best backup solution for your business. They can also help you implement and monitor the backup solution to ensure it is functioning correctly.
In conclusion, as a small business owner, implementing cloud backup is essential for protecting your data and ensuring that your business runs smoothly. With the five core benefits of cloud backup outlined above, you can see why it’s such a vital tool for your business. Contact us today to schedule what we call a TAR, a Technology Alignment Review, and ensure your data is always secure. A TAR will outline what your organization is doing well when it comes to technology, as well as a list of recommended best practices for a business in your industry and of your size (since technology is not a one-size-fits-all kind of solution). After that, you can hire us to implement the suggestions, or you can walk away, confident in your newfound knowledge about your business’ technology.