Cloud storage solutions have rapidly grown in popularity over the past decade. Although compact discs (CDs) and USB flash drives were widely used in the early 2000s, few people carry them today.
However, remote workers should not completely abandon local storage options. Storage needs vary from person to person, and a random transition to new platforms will compromise your ecosystem. To make an informed and objective decision, let’s explore the pros and cons of using cloud storage for remote work.
The benefits of cloud storage solutions for remote work
Cloud computing plays a major role in the development of modern storage solutions. A recent flexera report shows that 93% of companies and businesses use multi-cloud storage, with 87% using public and private networks. Most organizations and individuals are making the move to the cloud for the following reasons:
1. Cloud subscription fees are affordable
Contrary to popular belief, cloud storage is cheaper than local storage. Cloud systems come with recurring monthly fees, but you’ll get more storage space per dollar. $10 per month will already get you 1TB to 2TB.
You could even look into free cloud storage solutions. Most service providers will let you use your first 10-15GB for free. Just expect basic accounts to have limited functionality, though you should have no problem transferring and storing files.
Alternatively, inexpensive 1TB external hard drives will cost you at least $60. There is also no guarantee of how long they will last; you may have to pay for repairs if you damage the body or corrupt the files.
2. Cloud networks provide multi-device accessibility
Perhaps the biggest benefit of using cloud storage is that you will have better access to your files. You can open the cloud as long as you have internet access. If you and your team use cloud storage, anyone can open the file they need, regardless of where they are or how many users are accessing the same data.
On the contrary, portable hard drives require physical device-to-device connectivity. Let’s say you manage a team remotely. If you rely solely on local storage solutions, users will need physical hard drives to access stored content.
3. Teams can integrate cloud technologies into their ecosystems
You can integrate cloud systems with various devices. Most cloud service providers have minimal operating system limitations, so you can probably tie your cloud storage account to your laptop, tablet, smartphone, and even a smartwatch.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can blindly use any cloud system. We suggest using software compatible with your remote team’s ecosystem. Suppose your company uses devices with Windows operating system. Although they can run iCloud Drive, they will work much faster and offer better features if you opt for Microsoft OneDrive.
4. Cloud storage solutions streamline data retrieval
Though there is different ways to recover lost data, they also take a lot of time and effort on your part. You might not mind spending a few hours restoring small files that you accidentally deleted. However, if you need to recover several gigabytes of corrupted or lost data, expect to shell out a few dollars per file.
Remember: prevention is better than cure. To minimize the risk of having to recover data, back up your files to the cloud. You can do this whether you use the cloud or local storage. Don’t worry, since backups usually require less storage space than normal files, you can use free accounts.
5. Cloud Computing Systems Encrypt Stored Files
Encryption serves as a standard security feature in cloud storage systems. You can rest assured that your stored files will remain encrypted no matter which cloud service provider you choose.
Just note that they run different encryption algorithms. To give you an idea, iCloud Drive uses 128-bit AES encryption, while Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive use 256-bit AES encryption.
The downsides of cloud storage solutions for remote work
Despite the cost effectiveness and accessibility of cloud storage solutions, you should always look to local storage devices. We don’t recommend blindly abandoning physical hard drives. Otherwise, you risk wasting your resources if you ignore the following limitations of cloud storage systems:
1. Cloud networks load slower
Don’t get me wrong, we’re not saying cloud storage is slow. But since it relies on internet access, spotty connectivity can lead to lags and disconnections. If you manage a remote team, you might find it difficult to collaborate with remote workers who don’t have a stable internet connection.
Alternatively, local storage systems are open for configuration. Depending on the changes made by your IT team, you will likely be able to continue sharing and transferring files within your ecosystem even without internet access.
2. Security depends on your cloud service provider
You have minimal control over the overall security of your data. Choosing strong login credentials and managing file access will only protect your cloud storage system to some extent, but service providers still have full power over the backend.
As a single remote worker, you might be okay with the lack of control. However, if you run a small or mid-tier business, you might want to consider local storage options that allow users to set up private cybersecurity systems.
3. SaaS cloud systems leave gaps in access control
Freelancers and remote workers find SaaS cloud systems convenient because they work out of the box. Unfortunately, convenience also comes with restrictions. Cloud service providers not only control the security of your storage system, but also its overall functionality.
Lack of control leads to gaps in access control, thus preventing users from effectively mitigating various data privacy issues, security threats, and workflow inefficiencies. If you want more control, consider IaaS and PaaS storage alternatives.
4. Migration to different cloud systems is a challenge
Transferring files between the cloud and local storage devices is easy, but migrating from cloud to cloud is not. Moving terabytes of data can take days. Many SMEs and ETIs prefer to avoid changing suppliers rather than devoting resources to data migration.
As such, research all of your options thoroughly. Try multiple cloud systems before paying subscription fees, transferring sensitive data, and onboarding your remote team.
5. Cloud subscription plans lock you in
Cloud service providers often use massive discounts and promotions to encourage customers to switch to annual billing. In some cases, they could even reduce your fees by more than 50%.
You will save a lot in the long run. However, rethink your options because you probably won’t get your money back if you suddenly cancel your subscription.
Instead, we suggest maximizing free trials whenever possible. Remote workers who only store a few files online can use free accounts for several months before needing an upgrade.
Are cloud storage solutions worth it?
Whether or not you should invest in cloud storage depends on your current setup. There is no single storage solution. Assess the types of data you store, check how your business partners send files, and test if you can seamlessly integrate cloud technologies into your ecosystem.
That said, we still encourage all remote workers to check cloud systems. Since brands like iCloud Drive, Google Drive, and Dropbox offer free storage, you can use them however you want for free. At least try to use them first. You can make a gradual transition once you have explored the different cloud service providers in the market.