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6/23/2010
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Making Sense of SMB Cloud Storage Options

Looking for a cheap, easy to use Web-based storage provider? If the number of companies now offering such services is any indication, you're not alone.

Looking for a cheap, easy to use Web-based storage provider? If the number of companies now offering such services is any indication, you're not alone.Enterprises may look askance at services like Mozy and Dropbox, especially when it comes to maintaining control over their data. But for most SMBs, these companies offer an embarrassment of riches: online backup, cross-device file synch, collaboration, and all kinds of other benefits.

And did I mention the "free" part? Actually, they aren't always free -- most of these companies make their money selling additional storage to those who need it. But in most cases, the free service tier is enough to satisfy a typical small business.

The biggest problem with these services isn't security; no matter what you read, you're more likely to get hit by a space rock than to have your data stolen. And it isn't reliability, which is generally quite good, although occasional hiccups can happen.

No, the biggest problem is picking one with just the right mix of features. And over at InformationWeek, my colleague Ivan Schneider just did one of the better roundups of Web-based storage providers I've seen in quite a while.

Start with his Online Storage Buyer's Guide. This will give you a quick introduction to the most popular options, including Jungle Disk, CrashPlan, SpiderOak, Dropbox, Backblaze, Carbonite, SugarSync, and Mozy. Pay close attention to features like real-time upload, file versioning, custom backup sets, and others that differentiate these services. They're all good, but that doesn't mean they're all the same -- quite the opposite.

Don't Miss: NEW! Storage How-To Center

For a second look at some of these products, also check out the Image Gallery showing screen shots from all eight of these products in action.

Which one is my favorite? Actually, I use two regularly. Dropbox, with its wonderfully simple interface, is the perfect tool for sharing files with co-workers or collaborators. And I also use Mozy to back up some key folders on my work PC -- although I also perform regular full backups to disks that I store right here at home in a fireproof safe. (When it comes to backups, you may be paranoid -- but are you paranoid enough?)

Like I said, these services aren't one-size-fits all. But with so many choices available, your small business is sure to find at least one -- and maybe more -- that are a perfect fit.

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