Rhys Roberts
Rhys Roberts, Director at Viridity

Cloud computing

What are the best options for hosting data files?

I replied to a question on site a while ago that my business holds all of our data files in the cloud, we do not have a local file server.  I still think that is the best solution for a small business such as mine, but I am exploring options for this service. 

The files I want to save are the usual range of files a consultancy business would hold - Word & Excel, PDFs, Powerpoint and so on.  Many of these get used frequently, they are regularly opened by multiple users.

What are the pros and cons of:

  • Generic cloud storage such as Dropbox / Boxnet (and the many other similar options)
  • Sharepoint or Google Drive (which rightly or wrongly I perceive as differing from those above), or
  • A private cloud option

Are there other (better) options that I have missed?

Cheers, Rhys

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3 Answers

James Norquay

James Norquay , Consulting Director at Prosperity Media

It depends on your budget, I will show you some examples of services I have used in the past and I would recommend, I have also broken this down into different sections based on cost:
Level 1 - Free (Google docs can be an option for hosting the excel and other shared work files, yet the thing is data privacy is low and also in terms of professionalism it can look lower if you are using it but in terms of doing the job it does that very effectively)
http://docs.google.com
Level 2 - Low Level Cost (Host Gator is a good option I have used for hosting files and data for clients in the past, the issue is some data is on the same server as other businesses and it is hosted in the US, overall the up time has been quote good)
http://www.hostgator.com/shared
Level 3 - Medium- High Level cost (I have used Macquarie Telecom for cloud hosting in the past, servers are based in Australia, the cost is more than other suppliers listed but the service is top notch)
http://www.macquarietelecom.com/corporate/launch-hosting

So these are some set ups I have used in the past, it really depends on your budget and how you want to host things, if budgets are small just go with a US host, if theirs more try and use an Australian service. 

 

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Rhys Roberts

Rhys Roberts , Director at Viridity

Thanks James & Dave, just what I was looking for.  A couple of follow up comments.

Budget is probably less important that the functionality (within reason of course), and there do seem to be a range of options all of which will cost significantly less than a locally installed server. 

To date we have been using both Dropbox & Boxnet, both for storing internal documents and for file transfer to / from clients (with access restricted by user of course).  One of the downsides of Dropbox is the lack of granularity of access control - you either grant a user access to a folder or not.  Boxnet offers better control than this - users can be given read only / upload only / download only / edit but not delete / and a number of other variations of access. 

An issue I have with both Dropbox & Boxnet is that users can set up to automatically sync to their local workstation, which is great in terms of speed of opening files and also overcomes concerns of internet access (although as we have primary and backup access I don't see this is a likely risk).  A problem this creates is in terms of conflicted files - user A opens a file from their local machine, Dropbox syncs this.  User B then opens the same file from their local machine and Dropbox creates a "conflicted copy" - you now have 2 different versions of the same file.  We manage this internally at the moment via procedures, but that is becoming steadily more challenging.

As my business grows I am keen to ensure that the solutions we use are appropriate for the size of the business.  Thanks for the input above, I will continue to explore this issue & will at some stage implement some amendments to our current set up. 

Cheers, Rhys

 

 

 

 

Micha Wotton

Micha Wotton , Head of Development at SavvySME

Rhys, some of the issues you're having with duplicate or conflicting versions of files are inherent in the type of file you are using. Excel spreadsheets or Wor... read more
Rhys, some of the issues you're having with duplicate or conflicting versions of files are inherent in the type of file you are using. Excel spreadsheets or Word documents were never designed to be opened by more than one user at a time. In this regard, Google Docs (now part of Google Drive) can be very useful, as multiple people can be editing a document simultaneously. Couple this with the Google Drive desktop app for offline syncing and it could suit your requirements. There is some access control at an individual file level, but it's certainly not comprehensive.
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Dave Holmes

I'm a big fan of Google. We use Google for business so get to use our own domain names for our emails and Google docs is an excellent platform for file storage of all kinds. Google for business is only US$50 per email so very affordable for small business.

We tend to use Google docs for internal business documents like policies and procedures and our office network layouts.

We use Dropbox for file sharing outside of the business.

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