Moving your company’s data to cloud storage provides many benefits, which includes reducing the need for an in-house IT department and offering a more cost-effective storage solution over hosting an in-house server. Cloud storage also increases employees’ flexibility, allowing access to data in multiple locations and improves work efficiency for remote or telecommuting workers. As with any new technology or system, you’ll likely meet a few bumps in the road. Explore the following five best practices you need to keep in mind when storing data for your business in the cloud.

Focus on Compatibility and Ease of Use

Image via Flickr by kewl

No cloud storage system will work for your business unless the system is easy for employees to use. The cloud platform you choose should be compatible with all the business applications your company needs along with every operating system. Ideally, cloud storage should be an intuitive part of the user interface, capable of integration with software for your customers or users. A cloud storage solution should also allow fast response to data requests.

Research Scalability and Pricing Options 

As your use of cloud storage expands, your server space will expand as well. Before adopting a cloud storage platform, be sure that this platform is easily scalable, without any surprise price increases as you move from a lower to a higher tier. Understand the vendor’s pricing structure and make sure that structure fits the way you do business. Along with monthly storage fees, some vendors charge you each time you access a file, while others charge for bandwidth during uploads and downloads.

Include Security and Reporting Tools 

Data security is at the top of everyone’s mind when considering cloud storage. Your vendor should have up-to-date protocols for preventing data breaches. Consider also that much of the data security depends upon your own users and business partners.

Each user should have distinct credentials, with no more access privileges than needed. Review user accounts at least every six months to make sure access levels are up-to-date and to remove any inactive accounts. You should be able to easily access reports so that you can track storage, usage, and accounts.

Provide for Disaster Recovery and Backup Protocols 

Be proactive about disaster recovery plans. Make sure your cloud storage vendor has systems in place to supply continuity of business when a system failure occurs. Test restore features before you need them to make sure all items are in working order. Also consider maintaining local backups of vital data.

Understand the Contract Terms of Service 

Read the contract of your cloud service vendor before you sign. Have a clear understanding of the provider’s service commitments and their liability for when a data loss or breach occurs. Make sure you understand who is responsible for different security aspects of your data storage. When a billing dispute occurs, your vendor may withhold or delete your data, so make sure you get this claim of responsibility in writing as well.

Keeping in mind a few best practices for storing data in the cloud can make your data storage transition easier, more efficient and predictable, and more secure. These best practices will also help the more reluctant employees on your staff feel more comfortable about relinquishing control of their data.