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With the growth of cloud computing, it seems ridiculous to have employees email files to themselves just so that they can open them at home. And USB keys and external hard drives have seemed obsolete for a long time.

Being able to store and access files from anywhere at any time using any computer or device has become a necessity for most organizations. Fortunately, there are several good options for cloud storage. The trick is figuring out which one will best serve your current and long-term needs.

We routinely get calls from customers asking us about SharePoint, Dropbox and Google Drive. Our typical response is that they are all great products, but designed for very different purposes. Take a look:

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Description: Dropbox is a file hosting service that offers cloud storage, file synchronization, and client software. Users create a special folder on each of their computers, which Dropbox then synchronizes so that it appears as the same folder with the same contents regardless of the computer used to view it. Files in this folder can also be accessed with a website and mobile phone applications.

– Easy to use
– Can be used as a cloud file server
– Prices start at $9.99/month for 100 GB

– Offers the least value
– Dropbox is a simple file-sharing solution. This will be adequate for the average consumer, but data security could be a concern for businesses. There are no passwords and anyone with access can modify and share anything they wish

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Description: Google Drive is a file storage and synchronization service that offers cloud storage, file sharing and collaborative editing. Google Drive is the new home of Google Docs, a suite of productivity applications that include collaborative editing of documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.

-Free storage for up to 15 GB; monthly rates start at $4.99 for 100 GB of storage

-This price can be a little misleading because this total storage is spread across Google Drive, Gmail, and Google+ Photos
-Trying to move users away from familiar Microsoft applications to Google can lead to user resistance and compatibility issues if users refuse to switch—a common problem that can also lead to unsynchronized Office and Google Docs versions of documents existing within the organization

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Description: Describing SharePoint is tricky because it can do just about anything. And to be fair, comparing SharePoint to Dropbox is like comparing a modern day computer to an abacus. Its functionalities even greatly outstrip those of Google Drive (when used in conjunction with Google Docs).

At the most basic level, SharePoint is a web application platform that allows for online document storage, management and collaboration. But it can also be used as an internet portal, extranet or internet site, for e-discovery, business intelligence, a collaborative tool for managing projects, teams and lists, synchronizing calendars with Outlook and much more. It’s so versatile that it is used by 78% of Fortune 500 companies, but accessible and affordable enough for even tiny organizations.

– Offers the most value for businesses; because it’s highly customizable, it can be configured for virtually any need and industry
– Allows for extreme granular permissions (such as edit, view only, delete/create files, etc.) and information hierarchy access for more secure sharing—even more important when external users are brought in to collaborate
– The brandable interface allows you to project a much more professional image, not only internally, but especially when collaborating with external partners

– Generally more expensive when used simply for online data storage
– Because it’s highly customizable, SharePoint can be a complex platform to configure and manage

An interesting option is Hosted SharePoint, available from third-party vendors. For a higher fee, these vendors will host your SharePoint platform and provide a long list of value-added services that eliminate the need to have any in-house SharePoint expertise. The better vendors typically offer a fully-managed solution by a dedicated team of SharePoint certified experts, a financially backed SLA, 24/7/365 technical support, migration and an extensive knowledgebase with FAQs, how-to’s and more.

As with everything in business, decisions should be based on value and functionality rather than price alone. You also have to consider your roadmap. You don’t want to be faced with having to change your system in a year just because your current solution cannot get the job done.

Find out more about the benefits of using SharePoint in your business.


Written by Rhonda Sherwood Employee @ SherWeb

With nearly 20 years of business experience, Rhonda Sherwood has seen far too many SMBs work hard, but not necessarily all that smart. Her goal is to write articles that will be accessible to all IT decision makers, regardless of their level of technical knowledge.