What is cloud computing and how does it work?

Move to the cloud with these simple tips
01 May 2019

What is cloud computing and how does it work?

Almost every day, I answer a call from a small business owner or admin manager who is curious about cloud services and its benefits. The question is always: should I move our business to cloud services, or should we stay with the servers we’ve already invested so heavily in?

It’s a decision that can create that ‘third-coffee-after-two-breaky-meetings-before-11’ anxiety. After years of reliance on servers and IT support technicians, the change of migrating to the illusive yet oh-so-trendy ‘cloud’ can be met with resistance. Security and privacy are still concerns for some (especially those dealing with data that can’t leave Australia), and for others, the immense change to the current ways of working can be too much to bear.

For the newbies out there, cloud computing allows you to store and access your data using the internet rather than via large servers. It enables access from anywhere and on any device, fosters collaboration and allows remote workforces to work creative magic with ease. Gone are the days of sending large files to yourself before a day offsite or carefully going through ‘track changes’ on multiple documents before a large pitch or submission is due.

Of the main document storage players, Dropbox and Box get a huge rap amongst small businesses – they are easy to use and set up, cost effective and accessible. However, setting up Dropbox or Box incorrectly can cause you a world of pain – and costs in IT support fees to peeps like us.

To make help you understand the differences between Box and Dropbox, we’ve compiled 5 critical questions you need to answer before you get into the nitty gritty of pricing.

5 critical cloud computing (eg. Dropbox vs Box) questions

  1. Do you have Mac users in your workforce?

Box and Dropbox both work well for a Mac. Steer clear of the rival players OneDrive, as the first two simply wipe the floor with the others.

TMM picks: Both

  1. Will you need separate groups and permissions for your teams?

This is a big one – if you’re keen to keep your salaries hidden, or create ‘Chinese walls’ because of servicing competing or similar clients, you’ll need this. The main strength of Box is the ability to create groups and manage user permissions. This gives the ability to set up strict access on files and folders, with full access to advanced security features.

TMM picks: Box

  1. Do you need advanced features that will help your business scale?

Here’s the thing that no-one tells you. After working across both applications for multiple clients, I have to say – Dropbox is essentially made for home users. Yes, they have enterprise functions now, but when you get into the guts of Dropbox, it’s home user style with a few add-ons. You can’t see the size of your files. Dropbox won’t allow you to transfer large amounts of files. Box in comparison is fully geared up, enterprise solution that has all the bells and whistles you need to grow your business.

TMM picks: Box

  1. How often are your staff on the go?

Mobile and device compatibility are huge here. Most small businesses run a huge portion of their day-to-day from meetings, taxis or cafes – it’s the nature of the hustle! For simple accessibility and ease, Dropbox wins.

TMM picks: Dropbox

  1. Do you need compatibility with Adobe files?

It’s a close call here. Both Dropbox and Box integrate very well with files from Adobe, MS Office and Salesforce, however Box allows up to 250 approved applications that will sync with ease.

TMM picks: Box

The verdict

Both are fine, but for a more sophisticated setup that won’t miss a beat, go with Box. If you’re budget constrained and choose Dropbox, make sure you invest in a few hours of IT support to get the file conventions, users and setup right – it will make the world of difference.

Whatever you choose, make sure you get the right enterprise (professional) license. Setting up an individual Dropbox account and then sharing with 5-6 users in the office is a sure-fire way to lose files and crash your system. Invest in the correct license and you’ll thank me in the long run.

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