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How to choose the right cloud storage

posted on May 25, 2017
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Cloud storage is simply data storage in a central location which is specialized to store data, and which can be accessed online from any place with an internet connection. It is a really good idea to incorporate cloud storage into your operations, to keep your data more stable, improve employee productivity, foster collaboration, and ensure that everyone is always accessing the most up-to-date version of any file.

Not all cloud storage providers are created equal, however. Your data is extremely valuable, as is data confidentiality and security. Here are some considerations to use when choosing the right cloud storage for your organization.

What cloud services do you need?

Some organizations only need to store files online, while they use computer-based applications (e.g. MS Word, QuickBooks, Photoshop) to work with those files. Others do better with online applications as well. The advantage to online applications is that they can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection, and you always have the latest version. One disadvantage is that they only work when you have an internet connection.

Security

This is crucial, and will only become more so as hackers get more advanced. Every cloud provider will claim that they use strong encryption for data both in transit and at rest (sitting in their servers) – this could give you the impression that your data is always protected. It isn’t.

The problem is that cloud storage servers are excellent targets for skilled hackers, simply because they contain so very much data – some of that data is bound to be useful. The encryption keys are generally stored with the data, which means they will get stolen with the same data breach.

Canadian data privacy is governed by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). PIPEDA, in plain terms, states that “once an organization collects data, regardless of the province, industry, or the type, that the organization is now fully accountable for the protection of said data. [1]”

Data ownership

If you’re not paying for a service, that means you are the product, not the customer. Data stored on free services is almost always the property of the storage company. Even if you pay for the service, you need to read your contract carefully to make sure it is clear that you own your data free and clear.

Where will the data be stored?

Remember that the cloud, in this context, is not a puffy white thing in the sky. It is a data storage facility somewhere different from where you are sitting. It may be in another country, even on another continent. Data privacy is subject to the laws of the country in which the data is physically stored. So, if your data is stored by 1’s and 0’s in a rack in Kazakhstan, then it is governed by Kazakh privacy laws, or the lack thereof. Remember PIPEDA? You’re on the hook, no matter where the data is being stored. To be safe, make sure you use a Canadian cloud storage provider, who guarantees that the data will never leave Canada.

To learn more about online cloud storage options, as well as a dozen other applications which can improve your organizational productivity, come to our upcoming workshop.

Volunteer Ottawa offers a comprehensive suite of courses related to organizational operations. Click here for more information, and to register. Subscribe to our Event RSS Feed to be among the first to know when a new workshop is added to the schedule.

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[1] Locke, Jesse. (2015) Canadian Privacy Laws and the Canadian Cloud: A Primer for Canadian Businesses. In ServerCloud Canada. Accessed online at: http://www.servercloudcanada.com/2015/09/canadian-privacy-laws-canadian-cloud-primer-canadian-businesses/ | Mah, Paul (2016). How to pick the right cloud storage service. In CIO. Accessed online at: http://www.cio.com/article/3138485/cloud-storage/how-to-pick-the-right-cloud-storage-service.html
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