Cloud Computing and a Word of Caution

Posted by David Chism | Wed, Jun 29, 2011

 Cloud Computing and a Word of Caution
I am one of those busi­ness guys who is embrac­ing Cloud Com­put­ing. I like it and see a lot of ben­e­fits to how it can make a small busi­ness more pro­duc­tive away from a phys­i­cal office. I like how I can run out to meet a client, take my lap­top, fire up my brows­er and have an iden­ti­cal appear­ance as my large desk­top com­put­er in sec­onds. I like how sav­ing and shar­ing files is made easy, and I spend less time wait­ing for things to load and save. Although the Cloud is still in its infan­tile state, is is here to stay. I believe every busi­ness should begin tak­ing babysteps to embrace the Cloud and yet still be cau­tious at the same time. Let me tell you how I use the Cloud for my busi­ness and how I remain cau­tious. What I use for my business: 
  • Mac­book Air, iPhone, iPad & iMac
  • Tablet PC (when I need a PC)
  • Google Chrome and Fire­fox Browsers with their auto sync func­tions (Cloud)
  • Google Apps for Busi­ness (email, con­tacts, cal­en­dar & docs) (Cloud)
  • A copy of Microsoft Word and Excel on my hard­drive although doc­u­ments are saved online)
  • Pho­to­shop (again, copies saved online & backed up)
  • Drop­box for files shar­ing and online stor­age. (Cloud)
  • Fresh­books (Cloud)
  • Google Voice
  • High­rise and Base­camp for CRM & Project Man­age­ment from 37 sig­nals (Cloud)
  • Exter­nal Harddrive*
The last item I men­tioned is the key: *an exter­nal hard­drive. It is pret­ty safe to say that Cloud stor­age and usage is safe, espe­cial­ly if it is a well known and trust­ed com­pa­ny like Drop­box. How­ev­er, Cloud Com­put­ing still requires a phys­i­cal loca­tion some­where. This means that although our data is being back­up in the clouds” it is being backed up some­where off­site, to a large serv­er some­where in the world. The rea­son this is a good thing is that your phys­i­cal com­put­ers are not being data hogs and will gen­er­al­ly run and oper­ate at a high­er per­for­mance. Also com­put­ers that run off a phys­i­cal serv­er tend to be a lit­tle slow­er. But, to be extra cau­tious with your data, finan­cial doc­u­ments, pass­words and even pic­tures, I would rec­om­mend still back­ing up these items to an exter­nal hard­drive. These hard­drives are dirt cheap now. You can buy a 350 GB hard­drive for prob­a­bly $60 – 70. Do a back­up every­day, week or month and you can then rest assured that if there ever was a prob­lem with the Cloud, God for­bid, you’d have a back­up copy. Also, if you use an online CRM pro­gram, I’d rec­om­mend doing an export of your data every so often. This is good not only if some­thing ever hap­pens but even if there is a human error. For exam­ple, if some­one in your office acci­den­tal­ly deletes a con­tact or a group of con­tacts, you can then import them back in if you are reg­u­lar­ly doing your own back­ups. So the bot­tom line, be a lit­tle cau­tious with Cloud Com­put­ing in these ear­ly stages and back­up your data reg­u­lar­ly. How has your busi­ness embraced Cloud Com­put­ing and what steps have you tak­en to pro­tect your data?

About David Chism

David Chism started his business out of a passion for helping small contracting businesses grow, be more profitable and become better known to their target clients. One lifelong hobby of David is using techie gadgets. So this blog is a place where he writes about technology, marketing ideas, just for fun (humor), personal thoughts on small business and more.

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