All About Online File Storage: Taking Collaboration to the Next Level!

Online File StorageSummertime has arrived, but before you head out of town on that well deserved vacation, lets take a moment to talk about accessing your files while away from the office.

Gone are the days of emailing documents to yourself and carrying around flash drives. We live in the era of online storage; from work documents to vacation photos everything can be stored in the cloud and accessed with any Internet connected device.

There are hundreds of online storage providers to choose from, and unfortunately, not all are created equal. Lets break down some of the essential features of online storage, in order to ensure that you select the best provider for your organization.

The Anatomy of Online File Storage

Essentially, online file storage works in much the same way as online email storage. All of your files and documents are uploaded to a central server using an application or web browser.  When you create, edit or delete a document in your online storage account, the change is automatically detected by the server, which then sends the updated document to all your enabled devices. This ensures that you always have the most current version of a document regardless of which device created or edited the document.

However, depending on the size and workflow of your organization, there are a few additional features that you need to consider before adopting a new online storage system.

Security:

One of the most important features of online file storage is security and knowing who has permissions to what files and folders. In general, online storage security is broken into two groups, external and internal users.

  • External users: Anyone who might need access to specific files for a limited amount of time. For example, a freelance graphic designer you’ve hired who needs access to media files and marketing copy. You’re able to create a new folder within your account and upload the required files/documents, then grant folder permission via an email link. The downside? Anyone with the link might be able to view/edit these files.
  • Internal users: Anyone who has a user account within the organization. Internal user accounts allow for more robust security, such as group-based permission. Group based file permission allows you to create unique rules for files and folders and assign them to a group rather than an individual. Group based permission allows you to create a set of rules to provide read only access for one group and read/write access for another.

Accessibility and Offline Access:

When it comes to online storage accessibility, there are two types: online only and hybrid. Some online file storage only allows you to view and edit files when you are connected to the Internet. For most people online only file access is not a problem, but if you travel a lot you might find this frustrating. Hybrid online file storage keeps a cache copy of your files on your computer – allowing you to keep working offline and once you reconnect to the Internet files will sync automatically.  The downside is that depending on the size of your account, you might find that keeping a cache copy will consume much of the available space on your computer.

File Type and Cost:

On average online storage costs pennies per GB.  However, your storage cost will vary greatly, depending on the type of files you plan on storing. Your standard file types, such as word documents and excel spreadsheets are generally smaller in size. However, if you are considering storing a large amount of media files, such as high res-images and videos, you will pay significantly more for the hosting cost. As an organization, it’s best to prioritize which files are best suited for online storage, in order to balance the needs of the organization with the cost of hosting.

The good news is that because of high competition among online storage providers the cost for hosting is continuing to decrease.  Some providers have already started offering an unlimited option. If you have a cloud based email account, such as Office 365 or Google Apps, you already have cloud storage included with your account. However, just because you have online storage included does not mean it’s the right solution for your organization.  Before committing to any online storage solution, you must evaluate your organizational needs and look at your current level of data consumption.

Contact Owia Technology for more information about online file storage and take collaboration to the next level! Call (571) 499-4349 or send us an email: info@owiatech.com.