Google’s new business-grade cloud storage options are a cost-effective way to backup those files that are important but you can temporarily live without should disaster strike your business.
You can’t over-emphasise the importance of offsite backup for precious business files. Should fire, flood or theft claim your office and all the computing devices within, it’s vital that you have backup copies of your important files stored elsewhere. Cloud storage offers a convenient and affordable way to do this, but not all online storage options are created equal.
Consumer-grade cloud storage/backup services tend to offer flat-rate pricing, but enterprise-grade services like Google Cloud Storage, Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure offer different pricing levels depending on how urgently you need to access that data in an emergency.
Files that are updated regularly and that you’ll need to recover ASAP should disaster strike are considered “hot” backups, whereas archival backups are considered “cold” backups. If your business suffers a catastrophic data loss you won’t need to retrieve these archival files immediately, as long as you know they’re safe and sound.
Amazon’s Glacier charges only $US0.07 per gigabyte per month to store data that you don’t need to access immediately and now Google has matched this pricing with its new Coldline storage option. Microsoft Azure also offers hot and cold options for its cloud storage.
These services aren’t aimed at the general public; Google Cloud Storage is not the same as Google Drive and Microsoft Azure is not the same as OneDrive. Large enterprises might sign up directly with these business-grade storage services, but if you’re a small business then it’s more likely you’ll sign up with a third party storage/backup service that uses something like Google Cloud Storage, Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure behind the scenes. Sometimes they’ll even give you a choice of which storage service you want to use.
You can certainly save money using these online cold storage services, but it’s important to read the fine print so you know what you’re getting yourself into. One of the trade-offs is slower retrieval times, so you might not want to use them for mission critical files. You can also pay higher retrieval costs for cold storage – some storage services slug you a fraction of a cent when you upload or download data, on top of the monthly storage fee.
Cold storage is unlikely to be appropriate for all your business data, but it might be a sensible option if you’re storing massive file collections online that are driving up your monthly bill.
It’s worth taking the time to assess the various kinds of data your business stores online and then devising a backup/storage strategy that uses a mix of hot and cold storage to ensure your business is making the most of the cloud.
Anthony Hill is the head of technology at Geeks2U, a national on-site computer repair and tech support company.