How to decide between File Server or Cloud Storage

Feb 09, 2016

Starting or growing a Business?

We have helped heaps of people who are starting or growing a business and one of the questions we keep getting is “do I need a server?” and the answer is “it depends”. Yes, we know that is not the straight forward answer you were probably looking for and the reason is that every business has different needs, let me explain…

Why choose a File Server?

The main purpose of a file server is to store and share files with different users, therefore the more users and the more files you have and want to share, the more it makes sense to have a server.

Files can be access controlled, this means you determine who can access what on the server.

If your require remote access then we would setup a VPN (Virtual Private Network), this allows you secure access to your work network from anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection.

A VPN requires a fixed IP address or a paid service that updates the address of the server every time it gets a new address from your Internet company (ISP).

In this mode, files live in the server and not on the client machines therefore every time a file is needed it is downloaded from the server, this means that very large files may take a while to open when accessed remotely via the VPN (since you’re going through the Internet), but are ok within your work network.

Going with a sever can be expensive at first, because you need a dedicated machine for it, but the ongoing costs will be lower, as it will be maintenance costs mostly.

Another benefit that may concern you is the privacy of your files, if you choose a File Server you store your files locally, so they can only be accessed by you and whomever you give access to. You control your files and their access remains governed by Australian law, but cloud storage will be subject to the laws of the country the servers reside in, so if your data is stored in the USA it is subject to USA’s laws.

When to use Cloud Storage?

Cloud storage is storage for your files, that is held on a file server outside of your office, this means updating/syncing your files will be dependant on having an internet connection. The locations of the storage file servers can be anywhere in the world, the files will not be physically in your workplace.

Some examples of Cloud storage companies are: OneDrive, Dropbox, Google, Drive Box, Amazon Cloud Drive, and most of these offer Business level options which work like the normal personal (sometimes free) application but the business version usually gives you more options around control, access and backup of your files (and has a fee associated to it).

Files can be synced between devices and can be accessed from anywhere, and if synced regularly, it means they can also be accessed even when offline and will update when you connect to the internet next. Updates are usually configured to only update the changes you make on a file, so large files don’t need to be uploaded completely, only the changes that were made.

Most cloud storage options are subscription based systems, so you usually pay a monthly or annual fee for each user you have so the more users, the more expensive and it can become, in some cases it can be very expensive in the long run.

Most cloud storage services are similar, where they differ is in things like ongoing costs, storage space, speed and backup options.

Your Mac Tech can help you make a decision on which option to go with, and whatever option you decide on, we can help you migrate your data and configure the user accounts as well as set up the file structure with access control for the users and/or groups you need.

At Your Mac Tech we can help you with all your needs, contact us for a free quote.