Cloud computing: heaven-sent or hazardous?

The advent of the cloud has been a mixed blessing for small business owners. Clouds can provide numerous advantages including data portability, interoperability between devices, and off-site data storage.  Designed to help protect valuable data and make your computing life easier, the cloud also face some security and privacy risks.

Dangers of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing’s popularity has invited predators – malware makers are more than up to the challenge. The integrated nature of cloud computing has provided means for criminals to access significant amounts of user data for numerous sites by hacking one server. As always, the best protection against malware attacks is the creation of unique and complex passwords. You should also research your cloud provider – you need to be confident in their ability to safeguard your data.

Your cloud provider needs to be reliable, and communicate clearly regarding service and maintenance hours. The most frequent complaints about cloud computing are the unreliability of connection to cloud servers. If you need to download a file, and you can’t access your cloud due to maintenance, what good does it do you? Costs are also a concern in cloud computing. Pricing is often based on month-to-month usage, and may vary based on memory consumption. For small businesses on tight budgets, this cost variability may be cumbersome.

Benefits of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is a fairly new concept to most people, although it has been part of the internet scene for a while. Take email, for example: cloud computing at its most basic level, and a part of nearly everyone’s daily life. Newer cloud computing services like DropBox and iCloud are creating numerous possibilities for small businesses.

By eliminating the need for on-site servers, providing basic software applications, and making data available across OS platforms and devices, clouds are simplifying daily interactions with technology. They’re also cutting start-up costs and streamlining tasks – meaning less work hours consumed in administrative duties.

Clouds offer small businesses a chance to compete with bigger corporations by providing comprehensive, linked services for a low cost. Since they are a relatively new concept in business, there are many types of cloud computing services available, and numerous providers looking for a competitive edge. The forecast looks good for clouds – their benefits are numerous, and IT experts predict greater levels of cloud compatibility in popular devices. Cloud use may shortly be inevitable, and that seems to be a good thing.

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