Cloud Surfing...

by Patrick Jessup

Last week I "attended" a webinar on cloud-based storage systems. If you don't know what that is, here is an explanation. The webinar was about half useful info and half a commercial for the host, but it was free so I can't blame them for plugging their product (it's a good product, we use it). The ultimate takeaway point: if you are not utilizing some manner of cloud system at your business (or even home), you need to consider it.

I know that some of you are thinking, "I don't trust others to handle and protect my information." I understand and relate to your apprehension. Unless you're a Millennial, it can be discomforting to contemplate putting confidential information about you or your clients out there in the digital ether. But the reality is that you're probably already doing it.

Are you keeping all of your digital information on your PC or a network drive? Is that PC or network connected to the internet? If so, it is just as, if not more, vulnerable to attack or theft as information on a cloud (more on this later). Are you worried about privacy? Are you using Gmail? Cell phone? Then Big Brother is probably already looking. Shhhhhh! ;-) Do you make purchases or transact business via email or website? I could go on but you get catch the drift.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying put all your trust in the almighty internet. There is a place for hard copies (I still prefer to read from them), and you should utilize your PC/network storage capabilities (just make sure they are secure). What I am saying is that your important information should be stored in more than one place.

What happens if, God forbid, your office or home burns down? Or a tornado or hurricane comes through? Will you have to spend weeks or months re-gathering all of your information? (All after dealing with the tangible losses of home and/or office.) Will you even be able to recover it all? Let's even step back a bit, your computer, network, storage drive, etc. are all mechanical devices. A mechanical device can and will fail. The only question is, "When?"

These days, the cloud market is booming. Everything digital is being integrated. And the companies that are providing these services have an interest in protecting your information. That means that they are constantly monitoring their systems, ensuring they are up and running, storing information on servers in multiple locations, and protected from cyber-attack. Think about it, Heartbleed, perhaps the greatest digital security threat ever, was practically obliterated within two days. Do you update the security on your PC or network that quickly? Are you monitoring it daily? I bet not. Who has the time, right?

None of what I have covered here even touches the convenience factor that a good cloud service can provide. I urge you, do some research, see how it might benefit you and/or your business.