There are so many cloud storage services vying for your business that it can be seriously tough to decide on which is best. DropBox is the poster child and flush with an infusion of $250m in venture capital. Good on flexibility and functionality but not so much on pricing. DropBox for Teams provides 1000 GB of storage, version history, admin tools and customer support starting at $795 per year for five users.
Small businesses with basic needs may get away with using Google or Microsoft. Google Drive offers five GB free, 25 GB for $2.49 per month and goes all the way up to 16 TB for $799.99 per month. The pricing is competitive and you have limited version history, the ability to share and edit files and the option to have discussions.
The problem is Google would like you to use all their services. It’s perfect if you use Google Docs, Android and Gmail but not so great if you don’t.
Window’s Live SkyDrive is actually a pretty nifty option for small businesses. You get seven GB for free and then 20 GB for $10 per year up to 100 GB for $50 per year. You’ve got document syncing, support for Windows Phone and iOS and the ability to edit documents even if you don’t have Office.
In alpha order, let’s take a look at some of the lesser known options out there good for small to midsize businesses.
Box offers a file management system in the cloud that allows you to set up file structures and individual permissions. You can have conversations, assign tasks and get real-time updates from their virtual workspace. You can create branded virtual data rooms that can be shared securely with colleagues or clients. The service can be accessed on mobile devices and they recently announced an app launcher called One Cloud that allows you to access the same file from different apps.
For secure storage and flexible file sharing that is scalable for any size of business, Box makes a lot of sense. It can be integrated into your existing IT structure and used in conjunction with the leading apps or even your own proprietary apps. Their customer support is extremely good. Business pricing starts at $15 per month per user and goes up the more features you want. Their full enterprise integration with solid admin and security controls, mobile device management and enhanced reporting is a good choice for very large businesses and they already have an impressive client list.
This is a scalable enterprise solution that offers continuous file syncing and plenty of administrative controls and security options for IT departments. You can easily back up and share files. There’s also app integration, the option to brand your content and mobile access for the iOS, Android, Windows Mobile and HP webOS platforms.
The small business package with limited features starts at $24.99 per month for 5 employees and 150 GB. The service can scale up to cater for an unlimited number of employees. Their enterprise option, starting at $12.99 per employee per month, offers enhanced reports, app and server integration and a lot more.
Another enterprise solution for cloud storage and document management is Ftopia. They also allow you to configure a file structure and create branded, secure virtual rooms which can be shared with colleagues or clients. They have a versioning system to avoid any data loss when multiple people are working on the same file. They also offer an iPhone app for accessing files on the go and there is full integration with SharePoint.
You’ll find that most of the big solutions offer a pretty similar feature set, so you really want to identify the unique selling points. For Ftopia, that big differentiator is data integrity. Through their deal with Guardtime they adopted a data validation service that nobody else can touch. Ftopia brings so-called Keyless Signatures to the table, a tamper-proof time stamp that uses mathematics to prove (if needed for litigation cases or regulatory compliance) that no content changes have been made to the data since the files were uploaded. Their basic package starts at $25 per month for 10 users and there are larger packages and various add-ons available.
This file sharing service is very accessible and easy to use. You’ve got typical options for sharing and protecting files of any type but it’s not so much geared towards online collaboration for virtual teams. SugarSync is really about securely storing files and accessing them from anywhere. All the major mobile platforms are supported and the business package comes with an administrative dashboard and live support.
As an easy backup and sync solution you can’t go wrong. Pricing starts at $29.99 per month for 100 GB and 3 users. One of the best things about SugarSync is that you can send files of any size from any device. If you demand mobile access not just on iOS, but on Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile or Symbian as well, then check them out.
There’s no one-size fits all solution that beats the rest. If collaboration is the focus, then Box should be high on your list, as should Ftopia. The data integrity guarantee from the Guardtime service and the pricing for Ftopia will tip the scales for many. SugarSync is good for backups and the scalability of Egnyte’s HybridCloud will appeal to some companies.
Cloud storage services have been emerging at an impressive clip over the last few years. The competition to be your file host of choice is fierce and you can get an impressive amount of storage for free. Take advantage of free personal versions first before adopting them into your enterprise.