Two days ago my Dell laptop died … for the third time in 12 months. Before it died the first time I was smart enough to purchase an external hard drive to back up all of the photos, music, and documents that I’d amassed since I purchased the laptop in July of 2005. After it died the second time, I purchased a brand new internal hard drive and figured that, with my new heart in place, the computer wasn’t going to die anytime soon. Boy was I wrong. To make matters worse I haven’t backed up any data to my external drive in months.
What really ruffles my feathers is the thought that whisked through my head last Friday: You should back up your laptop to the cloud (i.e., store your data online). If you drop your laptop in a puddle, kick your external drive like you did last Thursday, or if your computer dies again, all of your files could be lost forever. In the cloud, no natural disaster, theft, or accidental deletion will keep you from getting to the files you need.
Low and behold I let that moment slip away. I was forewarned not once, not twice, but three times. In addition to the above-mentioned light bulb moment, I had reviewed a handful of storage companies like carbonite.com, mozy.com, and egnyte.com for an article I wrote titled Tech Tools for Entrepreneurs last summer. For as low as $4.95 per month or $54.95 per year, these cloud computing services could have given me secure and in some cases almost unlimited storage that I could access from any computer with internet access.
But what really lets me know that the tech gods were trying to tell me something is a phone call I received two weeks ago from Derrick Samuels, a young entrepreneur who was planning to launch GameBox, his new online storage platform for gamers. While I’m not exactly a gamer, what really caught my attention was that GameBox not only stores saves games from X-Box, Sony PlayStation, Wii, or Open Source PC Games, but it can store any data just like the other cloud computing storage services. So, if you’re out to purchase online storage in the cloud like I am, here are three features Samuels says you should consider before buying:
Security – You want to make sure that your software and data is protected and that no one can access your files. Cloud storage should have SSL encryption, which makes sure your user name and password are protected. Most companies use SSL encryption so the security won’t likely change much between the competition. But check anyway.
Ease of use –For people who don’t know anything about the cloud, they need a simplified way to access their documents. Make sure the interface used to upload your data from your computer to the cloud is straightforward. Some of the features that make it easier include how the cloud client organizes your data or how the documents are uploaded to the cloud. “Most people don’t have time to read instructions,” says Samuels, founder of Envizions Computer Entertainment Corp, which also provides social networking along with GameBox storage. “A first-time user wants something that names the documents and gives you what to do in a couple steps.” You should be able to click, upload, and be done.
Pricing - Look for something that will give you value for the amount of storage that you are getting. Determine whether it is competitive with other products on the market. Also, look at the other benefits that come with the price. For example, in addition to using real money, you can also purchase GameBox storage with virtual currency that you earn from inviting other friends to GameBox or from Tweeting about the Product.
For more information about cloud storage read:
Marcia Wade Talbert is the TechWatch editor for Black Enterprise magazine and a content producer/staff writer for BlackEnterprise.com. Check back here at the Tech Insider for more technology news, reviews, tips, and advice for professionals and small businesses.