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Business owners once saved and stored their business information on a single computer or series of computers, converting it over from the system of storing paper files in a filing cabinet. Software applications came on disks. Backups of vital documents were stored on physical drives. Today’s world, though, is vastly different with the advent of cloud computing for business.

 This technology improvement is shaping how businesses function. For many companies, regardless of size or history, cloud-based technology offers advantages. But how can that make a difference for you? And what are the risks?

 What Is ‘the Cloud’?

In layman’s terms, a cloud is a series of networks used for different elements of a computing process, like providing storage, access to applications, and more.

 If you use social media, you’re likely already familiar with cloud-based products, whether you know if or not. For example, when you upload a photo to Instagram or Facebook, it’s not being saved on your local device; it’s being stored in the cloud. The same is true if you use Google Docs to create or share files, Dropbox or Evernote to host documents, or even the Kindle app for your books. All of these tools keep your papers, pictures, spreadsheets, and more in a cloud that you can access from anywhere.

Think the cloud is out of your league? It’s not. More than 70% of all organizations have at least one app in the cloud, found the IDG’s Enterprise Cloud Computing Survey for 2016. And 85% use a multi-cloud approach to manage a wide range of business services, noted a RightScale 2017 report.

Is the Cloud Safe?

Most companies are able to keep their data reasonably secure, even compared to traditional on-site storage solutions. Security professionals point out that a truly secure cloud requires a dedication to protection. Encryption is an important part of any cloud setup, as it safeguards against theft of proprietary business and customer data.

Luckily, most cloud providers prioritize security, ensuring customer information is kept contained in a safe, secure place protected from cyber attacks.

 Pros of the Cloud

Using a cloud for business or personal use has many advantages, including:

Cost: Cloud storage is often significantly cheaper than maintaining physical storage to securely host business data.

Accessibility: Business owners and employees can use devices such as smartphone and tablet computers and remote desktop computers to access cloud files and business applications from nearly anywhere, anytime.

Scalability: As your business grows, your storage can grow with it. Instead of spending money upgrading your own systems, cloud storage can give you room to expand as you need more storage and applications.

Upgrades: Hardware goes out of date regularly. But many cloud services providers handle improvements and upgrades, ensuring your systems are up to date.

 Cons of the Cloud

Despite the advantages, there’s no such thing as a perfect business solution. Clouds do have disadvantages, including:

Compliance: For companies overseen by a regulatory body, cloud computing can raise compliance issues. Healthcare and financial services fields, for example, face this obstacle

Data management: When your data is stored on your own devices, it’s often much easier to manage. Switching to a cloud means learning a new management system. That may not be user-friendly for all business needs.

Lifetime costs: Using a cloud can cost less initially. But subscription fees can add up. If you have a large database of resources or many apps requiring significant space, costs may add up over time.

 Is the Cloud Right for Your Business?

It might be, but it also might not. Like most things in business, there’s no one correct answer. If you’re especially concerned about safety and compliance or have no need to access files away from the office, cloud storage may not be the right fit for you. For many small businesses, though, a cloud-based system can be an easy, affordable way to streamline operations, scale the operations of the business, and improve the ways in which you interface with the world around you.

Article From Selective Insurance