I don’t know about you, but I’d find it difficult to run my business without cloud storage. Cloud storage services have a lot to offer business users. Have you ever faced any of these situations:
- You have to send a document to multiple people for comments or changes and then have to integrate all those changes when they come back.
- You need access to a document when you’re in a meeting, but it’s sitting on your office computer.
- Your email program refuses to send an attachment (maybe it’s too large) or the recipient’s email program refuses to accept it.
Using Dropbox to Share Business Documents
One of the easiest ways I’ve found to share documents with others is to use Dropbox (2 GB for 0 $/year). There are a couple of ways this can work. If you’re working on a project and need multiple files available to multiple people, the best way to do this is to create a private Dropbox folder for the shared documents and share the link with everyone in the group. That means everyone has access to the documents (though it still doesn’t solve the problem of multiple file versions). This is also useful for sharing documents with clients.
If you want a selection of documents to be publicly available, you can create a sub-folder within Dropbox’s public folder and share those there. Or you can share the link to a single document with the person who needs to see it – no need to worry about blocked email attachments. This works with a variety of cloud storage services. A client of mine recently shared her brand voice document using a Box () link.
For additional security, it’s worth upgrading to the business versions of your favorite file sharing program. This allows users to benefit from a familiar interface while enhancing data security and reliability and information organization, as a recent Entrepreneur article pointed out. Business iterations of cloud storage services usually include enhanced access control, something that’s important for business.
Using Google Drive for Business
But what if you want to have multiple people access the same document without having to go back later and integrate changes? This could be useful where teams are working on a project document and different people are responsible for different sections. That’s where Google Drive (100 GB for 19.99 $/year) comes into its own. That’s because it integrates word processing, spreadsheet and presentation tools.
The sharing is pretty much the same as with other tools, except that you can decide when sharing whether people will be able edit or simply view the documents you share. And you can generate public sharing links or links to share with specific people. In my business, Google Drive is used:
- for clients to share information with me, such as a project brief.
- for me to share information with clients, such as the status of their project, via a spreadsheet.
- to manage the workload for a writing team.
Where Google Drive rocks is that it allows multiple people to work on a document at the same time. You can see who’s working on the document via little icons at the top of the edit window, and each person is color coded. Google Docs keeps track of all revisions so you can see what others have changed. In addition, it allows comments so that you can discuss the document that you are working on with others while you are working on it. It’s simply a great collaboration to tool. The fact that Google Docs saves all changes automatically is an added bonus.
Using Another Cloud Backup Solution
Of course, you can simply share business documents via your regular online backup service. If you do, then it’s worth checking into how the service handles encryption and user authentication. Box, for example, takes care of file security even before users access files. An Entrepreneur article also cites the importance of audit trails and subpoena protection for files shared using cloud storage services.
Provided the security aspects stack up, using cloud storage to share business documents is a no-brainer, because it means that files become device independent, allowing anyone with the right access level to gain access to documents no matter what mobile operating or desktop operating system they are using.