Last year I wrote about how small businesses have been moving email systems to the cloud at an amazing
rate. Expensive and redundant email servers are being tossed into recycle bins as systems like Microsoft
Office 365 and Google Suite help businesses minimize their technology “footprint” while maintaining
high-quality communication systems. You can now have an affordable business-class system complete with
shared calendars and retention policies without building your own server room at the office or hiring a full-time
IT manager. This trend in technology was prophetic in our own business as well, as our most implemented
technology project this year has been to migrate clients from simple email services to these cloud-based
systems.

Last year’s article mentioned cloud-based file sharing as an aside but didn’t dive to deep into it at the time.
Microsoft and Google offer sharing tools alongside their email services, and the time may be right to consider a
move to one of these cloud-based systems. It may seem risky to move critical files to the cloud instead of
maintaining an on-premise file system, but cloud storage can add layers managed threat protection that go far
beyond what any small business can implement. As users need increasing remote access to systems and
critical files, options like SharePoint, OneDrive, and Google Drive may prove to be a great match.

Cloud-based file sharing allows your team to move personal and shared company files to internet storage
rather than utilizing a local server and sharing it on your local network. We’ve seen far too many companies
relying on a personal desktop or laptop as their company’s file server with inadequate backups, but many
businesses felt forced into that decision because of the large cost of a dedicated file server. That roadblock is
no more. Cloud-based file storage can help you move business files to the Internet, automatically care for
backups / versioning, and allow you to access your shared files from multiple locations all while maintaining the
look and feel of a local file system. You’ll also be able to save money and gain performance by using smaller
and lightning-fast solid state drives (SSD) on your business computers since local storage won’t be a factor like
it used to.

This trend is taking hold, but you should adopt it carefully. Many of the services available will work with older
operating systems like Windows 7, but you won’t get the full benefit of features like selective offline file storage
unless you’re on Windows 10 or a modern Mac. You’ll also need to plan on how to handle “conflicts” – the
issues that arise when 2 or more users both change the same file at nearly the same time. Your strategy to
get all of your stored files to the cloud may also need to be carefully considered and slowly adopted rather than
cut over to all at once.

As always, we encourage you to venture down this road with a technology partner experienced in these
transitions and that you trust to help you navigate around the inevitable potholes that may arise. Every
business is unique, but I think you’ll find great benefit in considering this new file storage and sharing option as
it continues to take hold in day-to-day business operations.


Written by Chet Cromer for Business Leader

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