As businesses begin to embrace the benefits of always being connected, they'll find that they need a better file and data storage solution. To many this means looking at the cloud as a way to extend existing capabilities. If you are looking to implement a cloud storage solution there are questions you can ask to ensure you find the service that best works for you.
Here are five questions you should ask any prospective cloud storage provider.
1. How does the implementation process work?
In the most basic sense, you are going to have to move your data and files which are stored on hard drives or servers into the cloud. This usually means uploading to the cloud server(s) which will host your data. There are numerous ways to do this and it would be a good idea to ask how the provider will implement the switch.
Some providers will have you upload all of your existing files, while others will just start fresh with new data - existing data will remain on the systems, or will have to be uploaded separately. As uploading of files is resource intensive, it's a good idea to find out when it will be done. If your files are migrated during working hours, this will result in slower Internet speeds. It's best to work with a provider who is flexible as to when you want the system implemented.
2. What file and document formats are supported?
While many of the bigger cloud storage providers support nearly every type of file or document, some will have limitations as to the type of file that can be uploaded/stored, or how you can use it.
It would be a good idea to ask the provider what formats are supported. The key here is to figure out if you will have to convert files and data - which can be a time consuming process - to a format the provider supports. If conversion is needed, ask if they provide conversion tools and support.
3. What do you do to ensure our files are safe?
With cloud storage, your files are no longer stored on your computer or in the office, they are stored on servers that could be located anywhere. It is important that you ask where the servers are, and about the security measures the provider takes to keep your data secure. This should include everything from how secure the upload/download process is to the security of the data center itself. If you get unclear or evasive answers, it may be a good idea to look elsewhere.
Beyond that, there are many states, provinces and countries that have set specific laws regarding data and data centers - where your data will be stored. For example, some have stated that there must be notifications sent to customers if there is a breach of data that is stored in that specific area. Being aware of these regulations, and how the provider plans to live up to them is a good idea.
4. Will you communicate infrastructure and system changes?
Because technological systems are always evolving, many cloud service providers are constantly updating their services or infrastructure. Sometimes, these updates could put your files at risk, or change the way the system works. A good provider will inform you of these changes, usually in an email, and provide you with an idea of how, or if, they will affect you.
The easiest way to see if they will send you notifications is to look at the Terms of Service. There is usually an update oriented clause like "The provider reserves the right to update services without notification." If you see a clause like this, it's always best to clarify what it means.
5. How will we get our files off of your cloud?
Some users think that the cloud storage service they sign up to will be the one they always use. When it comes to tech, this is risky thinking. There will come a time when you need to remove your files from the service. Be sure to ask the provider about their exit process. Some have been known to charge incredibly high rates to remove files.
A good provider will assist you in removing files and will have a clear solution. As your files are saved on hard drives on servers, your data once removed could remain on these drives. This is obviously something you wouldn't want, so ask what the provider does with the files once you withdraw them.
As with any technology, it is beneficial to do your research before you chose a new system to implement. If you are looking for a cloud storage solution, please contact us today. We can help find the best solution that fits your needs.