Your business is dependent on an enormous amount of data: company emails, downloaded software, and employee/client records. All that data has to be stored somewhere for further access and reference. On-site or off-site data storage is a proposition that is eventually presented to any business in the event they require considerable data management. In other words, whether you are going to store your company data on hard drives and networks located on your premises or on hard drives and networks provided by services on a third-party site (i.e. the cloud).
Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. When choosing a data storage method, you should be considering how much data you will be storing, whether or not sensitive data should be stored off-site or on-site, and recovery and backup methods. All of these concerns are handled a little differently off-site as opposed to on-site. Let’s look at three major deciding factors when determining your data storage options, and why an increasing amount of businesses are starting to store data in the cloud.
Comparable to the determining factors of renting or buying a house, the total costs of on-site versus cloud data storage comes down to initial cost and maintenance. The upfront cost of having your data stored on-site requires the cost of ordering hardware and the usage of power. The cloud’s hardware and power bill is taken care of by the service you choose to store with.
A monthly maintenance is suggested for your data, and when you store it on your premises, a technician is required to come in for hardware installation and updates. This costs your company time and money. Not to mention that when this installation happens, your business is susceptible to data loss and breaches.
A cloud service has a monthly charge for maintenance, which is adjustable month to month. This allows you to consistently and easily forecast your budget according to fluctuating data usage. Depending on the service you choose for your cloud, maintenance is done for you by professionals, much in the same way home repair costs are taken care of by your landlord when renting a house. In the case of data storage, since owning hardware isn’t as intrinsically important as owning a house, it is smarter and less expensive to store your data via the cloud and cloud services.
Managing your data with servers and hard drives on premise is rigid and can leave your company spending extra money. Determining how much capacity you need for the amount of employees you have can be tough with this rigid system. Gauging the capacity for the exact amount of employees can cost you money if they aren't using as much capacity as you thought, and it can also cost you time and business if your employees end up using more capacity than you anticipated.
The cloud allows for a more fluid way of managing data usage and capacity. As described above, the service you choose allows for a monthly assertion of your data usage. Cloud services provide more flexibility in the way you can predict more or less capacity than you and your employees are actually using. An adjustable monthly rate will take out the risk in estimating — and being wrong about — amounts of storage and capacity.
Theft, cyberattacks, and natural disasters such as fires are the biggest external threats to data security. On site, your hardware is located on your premises — leaving it vulnerable to being stolen or destroyed in the event of a natural disaster. However, knowing exactly where your hardware is and who can access it leaves a slimmer chance for cyberattacks.
Perhaps the biggest concern about storing data off-site is security. However, third-party services are working to minimize security risks. Frequent data backups and encryption are precautionary measures in case of a breach. Cloud data management is off-site and guarded, so theft is a minimal risk. In the case of a natural disaster, you would be responsible for your lost files and destroyed hardware if you were to keep it on-site — but this is not the case with cloud storage as services can include natural disaster recovery.
It’s not hard to see why businesses are adopting cloud based storage. It’s cost effective and flexible. The only major concern is security, which is becoming less and less of a concern with continual improvements. It seems the only reason you would store your data on-site is if you required little storage and capacity for data. Which in many instances, especially for growing business, is not the case. You’ll want to make sure to explore the options for data management with the cloud before you make a decision about your business’ data storage.