Cloud storage is a way to host data somewhere other than on your own computer, while maintaining ready access. The data is stored “on the cloud”—which is to say, online. Entrepreneurs are recognizing the vast benefits of cloud storage every day.

Why should an entrepreneur consider cloud storage?

Services like Dropbox and Google Drive are examples of commonly used cloud storage options—most often, as a means of sharing information with others or making information readily available to the owner from any Internet-connected device. Some cloud storage providers are like Dropbox on steroids. Instead of moving just a few documents, photos or files to the cloud (externally based data storage), some users store the majority of their data there.

Here are a few of the primary reasons why cloud storage should be part of your business strategy:

  1. Security: If your personal computer is the primary depository for your data and that computer is somehow destroyed or stolen, you could potentially lose all of your data. Cloud storage can keep you from ever experiencing that nightmare.
  2. Access: Let’s say you are traveling, have gone out to dinner, and left your notebook computer in your hotel room. During the meal, an opportunity arises for you to pitch a potentially lucrative client, but you need files from your computer and don’t have time to go back for them. When those files are stored in the cloud, you can pull out your smartphone and access them immediately.
  3. Sharing: With cloud storage, you can collaborate any time of day. Need someone to proofread a document for you? File it on the cloud and give your proofreader permission to access. Cloud storage is ideal for team-driven projects, and is a great way to facilitate brainstorming with staff and clients.

How to choose the best cloud storage option

There are three primary factors to consider when you are ready to take the leap to the cloud:

  1. Level of service required: Do you need to store a few important documents off-site for protection and backup, or is your interest in collaborating with a team to accomplish virtual sharing of documents? Do you want real-time backups, or simply a place to store a weekly backup? The level of service you desire will influence your choice of providers. For most entrepreneurs, Google Drive will suffice for individual demands, and you already have access to 15GB of storage free with your Google account. An additional 100GB of cloud storage with Google costs around $1.99 per month if needed. You can also move up to Google Apps for business and get inexpensive storage for you entire team. A free trial is currently available.
  2. Your tolerance for technology: Every cloud provider, to some extent, can be confusing. The plans can be difficult to differentiate, and you may not understand the various options. A good place to begin shopping for cloud services is an honest review site such as Top 10 Cloud Storage, where you’ll find comparison charts that could save you time and frustration.
  3. Your wallet: Whichever cloud storage provider you choose, make your decision with an eye towards the future. You may not be heavy into distance collaboration today, but will you be in the next year or so? You may not need to backup data on a daily basis or store folders loaded with photographs or videos, but do you see that need coming around the corner? Plan wisely, and plan ahead.