person on laptop and phone with cloud storage icons
While cloud storage has gained popularity in recent years, there are still some drawbacks to consider when deciding on your business's data storage method. — Getty Images/jamesteohart

When was the last time you used a flash drive? The truth is, cloud storage has dominated the consumer market for years. And businesses of all sizes are starting to adopt the cloud in some capacity.

According to a 2017 Cloudian report, 87% of surveyed organizations stated they were using some type of cloud storage, ranging from file sharing services like Google Drive and DropBox, to infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud storage like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

While cloud storage is the perfect solution for many businesses, it has some drawbacks that you should consider before adopting it for your business. This pros and cons list will help you decide if cloud storage is the right solution for your business.

Pros of cloud storage solutions

The three main advantages to cloud storage are:

It’s affordable and scalable

Local storage can become very expensive, very quickly. A large increase in data often requires you to purchase more physical hardware, and you may need to replace older hard drives every few years.

Cloud storage is often a more affordable investment for small- to medium-sized businesses, as they are generally priced per gigabyte of data you use. A handful of cloud storage providers even offer limited free cloud storage space, such as Google Drive (15 gigabytes), OneDrive (5 gigabytes) and Dropbox (2 gigabytes), which may be more storage than you need.

If you find the free storage limits aren’t enough, cloud solutions are extremely scalable. Unlike local storage, as soon as your business requires more storage, you can get it almost immediately. Since you’ll never have to update old hardware or worry about physical limitations, you can upgrade your storage capacity with just a few clicks.

It’s accessible anywhere

If you have an internet connection, you have access to your cloud-based data, regardless of your physical location. This is beneficial for larger companies with remote workers, as well as entrepreneurs who are always on the move.

It’s easy to recover data

One of the worst things that can happen to any business is to lose valuable or sensitive data. Businesses that store their data locally must take extra care to make sure their physical drives are secure, and that separate data backup is in place to ensure no data loss occurs.

With cloud storage, you can easily back up your data by creating a second copy of important files and documents. You also always have the option to download cloud files to a physical drive, too.

[Read: Data Backup: What You Need to Know]

If you have an internet connection, you have access to your cloud-based data, regardless of your physical location.

Cons of cloud storage

The three main disadvantages to cloud storage are:

It can drain bandwidth

If you perform data backups during business hours, your internet bandwidth may suffer. Additionally, many cloud storage providers have a specific bandwidth allowance, which can be slower than local file transfers. If your organization exceeds that bandwidth, you may incur additional charges.

It’s vulnerable to attacks

Every year, companies all over the world suffer from large-scale data breaches that expose sensitive customer information. Hackers are always looking for an easy target, and businesses with all of their data stored in one convenient location — the cloud — are at risk.

While cloud storage providers constantly strive to stay ahead of privacy and security, it only takes one employee with a weak password to compromise your entire business. Remember, 90% of cyberattacks are the result of human error.

It may not be compliant with your industry

For creative specialists, such as writers, marketers and graphic designers, industry compliance is not a concern. If, however, you work in an industry with a high level of regulation, such as financial services, health care, government and publicly traded companies, your use of the cloud may be limited.

Which is right for you?

For most modern businesses, cloud storage solutions are the way to go if you want an affordable, scalable way to access your data from anywhere. However, if you’re concerned about drawbacks like security and compliance, you may be better off sticking with local data storage.

[Read: Security Guide: Keeping Your Business Safe Online and Off]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published September 12, 2019