Free Cloud backups or business grade?


Just think how many devices you use every week either for business or pleasure. The chances are that today alone you’ve worked on some files, perhaps snapped a few pics with your smartphone or even saved an article or download to read later. And all of our devices deal in data, some of it vital. We are getting data from our computers, phones, cameras and tablets which is why we need more space than ever, and this is especially true of small businesses. So this is why so many of us are looking to the cloud to solve our storage and backup problems.

Cloud backups

The cloud has long been seen as the preserve of big international organisations employing thousands of people. But now owners of small and medium businesses are discovering how the cloud can help, and even domestic consumers are seeing the cloud as a viable way to back up their files, photos and work. And to encourage them, many cloud storage services are providing free storage to lure new customers. Should we take the bait?

The advantages of free cloud backups are obvious whether you are a business owner or just a regular Joe with a lot of devices. You can use your free cloud space to keep your videos, music, photos and files and you know that they are safe and you don’t have to worry about crashed drives or stolen disks. Wherever you are in the world you have access to your data as long as there’s an internet connection. What’s more you can share larger files that you wouldn’t be able to send via email.

One thing that many small businesses are using cloud backup for is disaster recovery. So if their hard drives crash or their offices are hit by a flood or burgled, they still have files, photos, data and spreadsheets stored safely off-site.


There are a lot of companies out there competing to bring you this free storage. Perhaps the best-known name in this area is Dropbox which has over 200 million users. This gives you 2 GB of data and by the simple act of referring the platform to your friends, you are granted up to 16 GB more. The software is simple to use and available on nearly every platform.

Google Drive

Another big player, which every Gmail user will be familiar with, is Google Drive. The search giant gives you a generous 15 GB of storage which you can use in their various applications, Gmail, Google Plus etc. Google Drive is very popular with small business users as you can edit and share files and your staff can easily collaborate on projects. Enterprises and businesses often use the Box Cloud storage service as the share and collaborate features are so strong. The company offers 10 GB of storage but this can go up to 50 GB when they offer promotions. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s OneDrive gives away 15 GB with the promise of more to come.

There are many other players out there so it’s worth looking around as they all have their pros and cons. For example, some people don’t like Google Drive as it restricts you to the use of Gmail. Dropbox is used by so many people that sharing becomes easier but with only 2 GB of free storage initially it is not good for big projects. Microsoft works seamlessly with the company’s Office suite but is weaker on collaboration and offers no support for Mac and Linux platforms. Of course, there’s nothing to stop a business signing up for accounts with all of these organisations and getting the best of all of them.

Business class cloud storage

But if you’re more serious about storage and security, you should look at upgrading to a business class cloud storage service. Most people are happy with the free consumer grade cloud storage options out there, but if you keep up with news in the tech world, you’ll remember that the biggest cloud storage player, Dropbox, had a huge security scare in 2011 when it was found that accounts could be accessed without passwords and again in 2012 when a data breach led to the spamming of customers. Google Drive and Onedrive also don’t encrypt your data when it’s at rest. There were also concerns when NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden suggested that some of these larger companies were “hostile to privacy” and would hand over information to the authorities when asked. We are not suggesting that the small and medium businesses of Australia are up to any nefarious business, but few of us would be happy to have our files opened at will by an overseas official.

The problem with free cloud storage

Another problem with many free cloud backups is that your documents and files are not always automatically upgraded to the cloud. In some programs you have to create a special folder for files to be stored in before uploading. OneDrive does this by backing up everything in a OneDrive folder on your desktop so you have to remember to put your vital files in there. Other providers’ programs require you to be inside their programs to select the folders and files you want to store.

Why pay for storage?

So if you’re using a lot of cloud storage for your business, it is worth upgrading and perhaps paying a little more for a business class solution. Businesses have different needs to individuals and business class storage often offers more robust encryption and reliability as well as compliance with regulations relating to healthcare, law and finance.

Most of the big players actually offer paid-for storage services and Dropbox for Business is one example. This gives you near unlimited storage as well as admin control, remote wipes of files on specific machines and mandatory two-step authentication. You can also tighten security and limit the sharing of links to outside parties.

Of course, most of the solutions we have looked at keep your data safe and can be used for backup but are not ideal solutions for disaster recovery when your business is hit by flood, fire or theft. Disasters are usually unexpected and most people aren’t prepared. Backing up data is one of  those tasks like putting oil in your car, brushing your teeth and defrosting the freezer, that seem tedious at times but you’ll pay the price if not done regularly. And most of us feel we are doing well if we backup our data every week. Well how does every 15 minutes sound?

StorageCraft solutions

US company StorageCraft can do this for you. They offer a service for small businesses called Shadowprotect that can take backup images of everything on your services systems from:

  • the operating systems
  • the applications
  • drivers, and
  • all your data.

It also does this every 15 minutes, so you never lose more than a quarter of an hour’s work. You can have a virtual carbon copy of your computer that can be restored or updated when you need it. This means you can be up and running right away on new hardware, even if you’ve been flooded out or lowlifes have stripped your office of all your tech. What’s more, this backup is all going on in the background and doesn’t affect any of your day to day business operations and everything is encrypted for extra security. You can perform full, incremental or differential backups scheduled at the specific dates or times you choose.

As well as being backed up to StorageCraft’s own cloud, you can store your data on other locations’ drives and disks and you can even virtualise your machines and re-create your network in the cloud. And because this is all automated, there’s no need to make special folders or worry about a crisis that hits with no warning. If you’re serious about your data, such a system, aimed at businesses large and small could be the backup solution you’ve always needed.

If you want to know more about backups for business or our ShadowProtect solutions, talk to the team at Empower IT Solutions. We are a StorageCraft Partner and can help find the best solution to meet your backup needs to bring you total peace of mind.