Five Questions to Ask When Evaluating Cloud Storage Solutions

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Directing the use of technology in corporations – large or small – has never been more challenging. Low barriers to entry and a wash of venture capital investment into enterprise computing mean there are more solutions to evaluate for even minor investments.

Cloud computing has become one of the most crowded tech solutions spaces in recent years. Cost savings, ease of access, and cross-device compatibility are all reasons why a cloud solution might make sense for your organization, but what are the critical, objective questions you need to ask a provider before signing up? Our quick list will help you cut through the marketing and product feature hype to get the real scoop on what’s right for your business.

How do I set permissions on who can access which documents and when access expires?
Though it may seem like a no-brainer, many file storage and collaboration solutions default to allowing users indefinite permission to access and download files. This loose default policy exposes organizations to increased risks of data breaches, especially since you could unknowingly allow access to sensitive documents even after business circumstances change. Having a solution that sets default expiration dates on shared documents is an important first step to building a foolproof system for collaboration.

How is sharing sensitive documents inside and outside of the organization handled?
A great file storage and collaboration solution allows simple sharing… but not too simple. That means the default sharing solution should never be a hyperlink that can be passed around indiscriminately with few security requirements. Similarly, files should not be shared in the same way internally and externally. Different sets of access permissions should come standard, with customization options available for specific sharing needs. In addition, a great solution should also include watermarks for any documents shared outside the organization.

Which features ensure only account holders can log in securely?
Secure login features like two factor authentication and secure password prompts have long been championed by IT departments worldwide, and sharing sensitive documents should be no different. If access to the file storage and collaboration system is not secure, the documents contained therein are also at risk. Automatically enforced policies are an outstanding feature to have in any file sharing setup.

Where are my files being stored virtually and physically?
While the idea of virtually- hosted storage has advantages in scale and cost, secure documents in many cloud-based solutions are stored on the same location as all other documents, leaving the system vulnerable to error or malicious manipulation. Similarly, the physical location of files is important to note, as solutions hosted far away from the home office may produce undesirable latency or other connection-related issues.

Which special terms of use govern my files?
Storage and collaboration solutions often come with strings attached, so it’s crucial to know what those are. Be sure to read the terms of service documentation and then inquire what conditions apply to your particular use. In some cases, sensitive documents could be subject to inspection without permission, and ownership of the actual files may not be well-defined. Analysis of terms of use documentation can also reveal what happens to sensitive files under certain business conditions, such as a merger or acquisition of the storage and collaboration provider company.

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