Weighing the Risks and Benefits of Cloud Computing for Your Small Business

If you’re running a small business in this economy, you have to take advantage of any inexpensive assets that help you get things done. Now is not the time to stick with what’s worked in the past. The world is changing, and the digital revolution is showing no signs of slowing down. Most entrepreneurs have taken advantage, using mobile technology and video conferencing to cut down on travel costs while maintaining a firm hand on their business when something takes them away from the office. The next level in technological freedom is cloud computing, but it hasn’t been embraced quite as universally to this point. To be sure, thousands of companies are already on board with the service, which allows you to untether your data from physical storage and put it in the hands of the cloud, giving you access 24/7 from any device with an internet connection. But there are those who don’t yet trust this service, due to fears both warranted and unnecessary. Yet it is a powerful service, so it’s to your advantage to weigh the risks and benefits of cloud computing for your small business.

Some of the benefits are quite clear. First of all, the major cloud computing companies will allow you to try out the service before you put any money down. They’ll generally give you a small amount of storage for free, which you can then use over the next month to see how it works for your company. There’s no reason not to take advantage, because there’s absolutely nothing to lose. You’ll still have the data on your office hard drives, so even if the service fails you won’t lose anything meaningful. If you do choose to invest in cloud computing, it’s also scalable. You pay based on the amount of storage you need, so you can always add on or subtract as you move through the process. And since most cloud computing is handled with monthly payments and no contract, you can cancel at any time.

Aside from the easy data access cloud storage provides, there are other perks as well. Most storage services come with a solid group of software you can use. For example, Microsoft bundles their entire Office package into their cloud services, for no extra charge. They’ll update it automatically, and anyone with access to your service can utilize that software from any device, as long as they have the proper passwords. You’ve probably grimaced in the past every time you’ve had to pay for a software upgrade, so this is nothing to sneeze at. Cloud storage is also incredibly easy to use. You’ll just drag and drop the data you want to move through a simple set of icons. And you’ll have the protection of a major league encryption system keeping your data safe.

So with all of these benefits, why isn’t everyone taking advantage of cloud storage. Well, there are some risks. First of all, you cannot rely on your cloud storage provider to handle backing up your data. They can’t ever guarantee things 100%, so you’ll still have to keep a copy of everything, either digitally on hard drives or physically in a filing cabinet. So while it’s easy to use, it doesn’t cut down on the clutter in your office. There are also all of the things that could go wrong that the service provider cannot control. You’ll need constant access to this data, but what if there is a power outage? What if the servers go down? What if they are hacked, and some cyber thief gets his hands on your sensitive data? These are all completely possible. Some companies now offer cloud computing insurance, but that increases your monthly expenses significantly. In addition, if you choose the wrong partner you could end up seriously frustrated. You’ll need ongoing customer service and staff that understand the requirements of cloud IT. All of these issues can add up, making it far more complicated and expensive than you would like. Just make sure you study up on any service you are considering and the costs that come with it before making the plunge.