Online file storage: Choosing the best cloud storage service for your business

Manager searching online for the best cloud storage provider

Online file storage and cloud backup services are the best way to ensure your data is safe, secure, and accessible to those who need it. The cloud has changed the way businesses store, manage, and share files—and it’s been for the better!

The cloud provides businesses with increased flexibility, scalability, and security while ensuring teams can share information quickly and easily. What does all of this lead to? Better collaboration, of course!

There are numerous cloud storage providers out there today. With so many options, how do you know which one is right for your business?

We know it can be challenging, which is why we’ve decided to create this in-depth guide to choosing the best cloud storage provider for your business. Here, we’ll cover:

Ready? Let’s jump right in.

What is online file storage?

Online file storage refers to data that’s stored in the cloud. With a cloud file storage solution in place, servers and applications can access data via shared file systems that are stored in off-site data centers.

Files stored in the cloud are accessible from any desktop or mobile device with a public internet connection or a private network connection. The third-party cloud storage space provider hosts and maintains servers and infrastructure to ensure you have access to your important data and files whenever and wherever you need them.

Cloud Storage

Local Storage

Cost Cost-effective as no hardware or maintenance is required Expensive costs associated with hardware installation, management, and maintenance
Accessibility Can be accessed from any internet-enabled device Restricted to local access only
Flexibility and Scalability Highly flexible and scalable Limited as growth requires new hardware

Disaster Recovery

Safe because data and files are backed up to an off-site server Highly susceptible to on-premise disasters and data loss
Speed Dependent on internet connection speed Dependent on internet connection speed and hardware
Security Dependent on security offered by provider, which is typically highly secure Dependent on on-site security measures

It’s also important to note that there are three main types of cloud storage: Public cloud, hybrid cloud, and private cloud.

  • Public cloud computing is accessible to anyone with an internet connection and is shared across organizations.
  • Private cloud computing is a cloud solution that’s only available to your business or organization, which means it provides higher levels of security than the public cloud.
  • Hybrid cloud is any cloud computing model that incorporates elements of public and private clouds.

Let’s look at the table below for the similarities and differences of each.

Public cloud

  • Offered by third-party providers
  • Available to anyone with an internet connection
  • Scalable and cost-effective
  • Security depends on the service provider

Private cloud

  • Limited scalability
  • Extremely reliable cloud storage solution
  • Most secure cloud computing model
  • Limited scalability, expensive

Hybrid cloud

  • Most suited to small and medium-sized businesses
  • Accessible via Intranet, VPN
  • Cost-effective and offers medium to high reliability
  • Moderate security
Business owner choosing from a selection of cloud storage plans

What is cloud file sharing?

Cloud file sharing refers to a service that enables users to store and simultaneously access documents, photos, videos, and more—all in the cloud. You can access cloud file sharing services via desktop app, laptops, mobile devices, and any other internet-enabled device.

File sharing in the cloud is secured and managed with user/group permissions, so administrators can grant and restrict access to any shared file or folder.

Cloud file storage and sharing solutions are crucial for any small business or large enterprise operating in today’s digital world. These solutions allow you to store and share files safely and securely according to your chosen storage plan.

Benefits of cloud file storage and sharing

There’s a good chance you’re already reaping the benefits of cloud storage in your personal life. Whether you use cloud services to create, store, and share docs of presentations online, or you’ve shared a photo album with your friends and family using an online file sharing service—cloud storage is prevalent for personal use.

However, many businesses are yet to realize the benefits cloud storage can yield. Cloud storage providers empower businesses with a cost-effective and scalable alternative to on-site hard drives and local storage networks.

Storing documents and other important files on an on-premise hard drive usually comes with limitations. Once the drive is full, users must transfer their files over to an external storage device. Not only is this method inefficient, but it’s also expensive. Nowadays, most businesses have transitioned to the cloud.

So what exactly are the benefits of business cloud storage?

So what exactly are the benefits of business cloud storage?

1. Cost savings

Traditionally, businesses and organizations relied on storage area networks (SANs) to store and archive data and files. Once these were full, companies had to spend money on additional servers and expanded infrastructure to accommodate the increased storage demand. Not only that, they had to fork out for expensive equipment, operating systems, and maintenance costs associated with hosting servers on-site.

Cloud storage offers a much more efficient and straightforward solution. Instead of spending money on on-site equipment for file storage, businesses could outsource it to third-party cloud storage providers operating from off-site data centers.

In this way, the accessibility of cloud storage is a huge money-saver for businesses, as it reduces management costs, simplifies monitoring, and eliminates the need for large-scale capacity planning.

That’s not to say there are no costs involved in cloud storage. However, costs all depend on the solution you opt for. Most cloud storage service providers offer a variety of pricing plans for business users. Solutions might offer just 5GB of storage for free, whereas others like Glip by RingCentral offer unlimited storage from the get-go.

Happy business owner saving documents on RingCentral Glip’s unlimited file storage
2. Scalability

One of the biggest benefits cloud storage yields for businesses is scalability. Whether you’re operating a growing small business or a large-scale enterprise, the cloud enables you to scale storage capacity to align with increases or decreases in data volumes. You’ll pay for the capacity you use.

Most service providers offer a range of storage options to suit the needs of all types of businesses. This means you can start with the capacity and performance you need immediately and scale as your business grows or as team members require more file storage capacity. No more anticipating how much file storage space you’ll need for the year; you can easily adjust at any time.

Team members sharing documents in real-time
3. Better mobility

With online file storage and sharing, users can access important data and share cloud files on the go. As all your data is stored in the cloud, you can simply access the storage platform to create, view, and share documents in real-time from any internet-connected device.

Mobility of business processes is crucial in today’s digitally connected world. Thanks to the cloud, we can work whenever and wherever we want. Whether you’re using a mobile app to edit a document while waiting for a flight or you’re working from home using a personal laptop—cloud storage syncing means you can have access anywhere you are.

That means no more having to save documents to personal devices to access on the go or transferring updated documents to shared workspaces. Instead, any modifications made to a shared file in the cloud are saved automatically in real-time.

This benefit applies particularly to remote working teams, as users can stay updated with the latest versions of important docs, powerpoints, and more, without having to rely on sending email attachments back and forth. That means teams operating across different geographical borders and time zones can access important files and data from any mobile device, tablet, or desktop computer—anytime, anywhere.

Remote employee sending files using his mobile phone
4. Improves productivity among business teams

Nowadays, many businesses are operating across global teams. Cloud storage enables remote teams to remain just as—if not more—productive as they would be in the office.

We’ve already mentioned how the cloud provides users with better mobility to stay productive wherever, whenever. But there are several other ways that the cloud can optimize business team productivity and facilitate better teamwork among co-located and remote teams.

  • Automatic file syncing
    When you’re working on a document or shared file (online or offline) in the cloud, all of your progress is automatically synced.
  • Accelerated workflows
    Cloud storage streamlines workflows by ensuring files are accessible for employees at all times via a centralized storage platform. Some storage solutions take this a step further by allowing users to collaborate on documents in real-time with annotations and access via multiple devices.
  • Improved collaboration with business app integrations
    More robust cloud file storage providers offer integrations with other important business apps for collaboration and project management. For instance, Glip offers integrations with other popular productivity tools to help keep your team on task.
5. Enhanced security

Storing your business data in the cloud provides enhanced security. How? It’s stored and managed by a third party. Cloud storage providers rely on robust cybersecurity measures to ensure enhanced data protection at all times.

Most cloud storage providers nowadays offer password protection and two-factor authentication for secure access. This means unwanted visitors will require a password and other personal information to get at your stored files and data.

Cloud backup means your data and files shared in the cloud are always safe. Online backup means there’s no single point of failure for an online file system, as files back up automatically to multiple servers rather than just one. This reduces the possibility of data loss.  Even if your server crashes, all of your files and folders are backed up in the cloud.

Moreover, storing your data in the cloud provides better business continuity should a disaster strike. The cloud provides users with a disaster recovery plan that relies on the cloud for backing up files—so even if the worst happens, you can rest assured that your data is safe and sound.

Image showing RingCentral's top-tier security

Tips for choosing the right cloud storage for your business

Now you know about the benefits of cloud file storage and sharing, we’ll bet you’re eager to find the right service provider for your business. Below are some tips to help you make that difficult decision.

1. Outline a budget before starting your search

First of all, you should outline how much you want to spend on cloud storage—if anything at all.

Most cloud storage providers offer a free account version that typically has some limitations attached. For instance, there might be a limit on the users who can access the storage system or a storage limit on how many files you can upload.

If you’re just getting started with a small business or startup, you might be just fine with a robust free cloud storage plan. However, as your business grows, you might benefit from business or enterprise plans that offer things like:

  • More storage space
  • Ability to upload files and send large files
  • Additional customer support
  • Increased access to file-version history
  • Enhanced security features
  • Integrations with team calendar apps, communication tools, and project management software

That being said, there are some options that offer robust functionality and unlimited storage for free.

Glip, for instance, offers unlimited file storage and sharing for free users—and much more in its free plan. As a team collaboration tool, Glip’s paid plan offers access to a number of added features like larger video calls, 10GB cloud recording, advanced analytics, and more. We’ll cover all the excellent features of Glip soon.

2. Think about how much space you need and choose a scalable solution

This one carries on from our last point. Think about how much space a provider offers and whether it’s enough to hold all your business data and documents.

Of course, if you’re searching for personal cloud storage solutions, you might not require 10GB or more of space. Some free cloud storage providers offer up to 15GB of storage space on their free plans. However, when it comes to running a business, you’ll likely require a roomier plan.

Better yet—you could opt for a solution like Glip that offers free unlimited storage as soon as you get started, so you don’t ever have to worry about running out of space.

It’s a good idea to choose a solution that will automatically let you know when you’re close to exceeding your storage limit. This way, you can fully leverage the scalability and flexibility that cloud technology offers.

3. Don’t compromise on security

Just because your data is stored in the cloud doesn’t mean it’s completely immune to hacking attempts or malware infections. For that reason, you must choose a solution that offers high levels of security to stay protected.

Part of staying protected is your job. You’ll need to configure hard-to-guess passwords and enable two-factor authentication. However, you should also choose a cloud storage provider with robust built-in security features.

Most providers take security seriously. There’s too much to lose if they don’t. That’s why many cloud services feature encryption and other security features to ensure data can’t be accessed or manipulated without permission.

For instance, Glip’s built-in cloud storage is protected by RingCentral’s seven layers of security. Business users can rest assured that their shared files and documents are always protected.

4. Find the integrations you need

Cloud storage is most effective when integrated with other tools in your software stack. It makes sense, right? You don’t want to constantly switch between apps to find and attach the files and folders you need to share with your team.

Most business cloud storage providers offer numerous integrations with third-party apps. It’s important that your cloud storage solution offers integrations with different apps, including:

  • Project management tools
  • Team calendar apps
  • Content management systems
  • Social media platforms
  • Word processing systems

Before making a decision, it’s a good idea to do some research and see whether the provider you’re looking at supports APIs. You can find out about the business apps they integrate with, see how the provider could help streamline your business workflows and facilitate better communication and collaboration across your team.

Image showing different RingCentral integrations
5. Check provider uptime performance

Cloud server networks aren’t invincible. They can be subject to technical failures, too. That’s why it’s important to ask prospective providers about their uptime track record before committing.

Reliable cloud storage providers offer robust Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with client contracts. SLAs require them to commit to a minimum uptime percentage. If that uptime isn’t met, the provider will typically offer a form of compensation to the client.

You’ll want to do this to ensure you’re getting the best performance from your cloud provider.

6. Think about how your team uses online file sharing and storage

Cloud storage is most effective when integrated with other tools in your software stack. It makes sense, right? You don’t want to constantly switch between apps to find and attach the files and folders you need to share with your team.

Most business cloud storage providers offer numerous integrations with third-party apps. It’s important that your cloud storage solution offers integrations with different apps, including:

  1. Does it feature simple mobile and web interfaces?
  2. Can they access it inside and outside office hours?
  3. Does it facilitate unlimited devices and users?
  4. Does it integrate easily with other business tools they use?
  5. Is it easy to get started?

Cloud file storage and sharing are crucial to modern business operations, but it’s not the only thing.

Your team (particularly if they’re working remotely) will need to communicate and collaborate efficiently to get work done. This means using text chat and video conferencing tools, file sharing and annotations, and robust task management tools to work together successfully. How does your chosen cloud storage solution fit into all of this?

Moreover, it’s not likely that your entire team is working on the same type of device or operating system. Does the cloud storage platform support multiple platforms? Will it work on an iOS or Android device? Is the experience of using it on macOS the same as on Windows or Linux?

Once you put yourself in the shoes of those who’ll be using the platform regularly, you’ll start to see that efficiency, simplicity, and mobility are key features to look for in a cloud service provider.

Team discussing the key features they need from a cloud storage solution

Cloud storage with Glip by RingCentral

RingCentral Glip's easy-to-use cloud storage system

Okay, so Glip by RingCentral isn’t just a free cloud storage app. However, it offers robust cloud storage and file-sharing functionality along with a whole host of other productivity- and teamwork-enhancing features. That’s why it’s our top pick—we’re not biased, promise!

When you sign up for Glip, you’re not only signing up for cloud storage. You’ll get that (unlimited!) along with:

  • HD video conferencing and voice calls for up to 100 participants
  • Unified meetings and messaging
  • Integrated task management
  • Integrations with other business apps
  • And much more!

Glip by RingCentral (free plan)

Glip by RingCentral (free plan)
Cloud file storage Unlimited
Message history Unlimited
Video conferencing Up to 24 hours with up to 100 participants
Platforms supported Windows, Mac, Linux. iOS, Android
Team members Unlimited
Guest users Unlimited
File annotation Yes, users can collaborate on files in real-time with in-app annotations
Screen sharing Yes
Integrations Unlimited integrations, including productivity tools, content management tools, CRMs, and more
Remote employee about to share a document with other team members on a video call

When it comes to storing and sharing files in Glip, users can stay organized by sharing multiple projects within the app. In this way, Glip is a one-stop-shop for all your team collaboration needs.

Uploading and annotating documents from Google Drive, Microsoft Office, and other files without leaving the chat app is simple. Moreover, all files are easily accessible via the search function.

Sure, Glip allows you to share an unlimited number of files, but that’s just the beginning. If your team is tired of switching between business apps, Glip is just what you need. With robust integrations, Glip allows you to combine all your team’s favorite business tools into a unified platform that’s intuitive and easy to use.

When it comes to remote teams, Glip can help users stay connected with real-time communications, instant file sharing, and multiple-device access. No matter where in the world they are, your team members can access the resources they need to collaborate effectively and stay productive at any given time.

What’s more, Glip understands the importance of video conferencing in today’s remote work landscape. Video calls have become embedded in the remote work ecosystem, so it’s important you choose a solution that offers high-definition calls along with several other features for enhancing communications.

Glip allows users to start calls directly from the chat app with a single click. Users can benefit from screen sharing, virtual backgrounds, and AI noise reduction features to make the video calling experience as interactive as possible.

Team members on a video call

One of the best things about Glip is how easy it is to get started. The free plan is always free—no credit card required. However, large businesses might benefit from Glip’s Pro+ plan for $11.99 per month. Glip Pro+ allows users to host video conferencing calls with up to 200 participants, store up to 10GB of cloud video recording, access advanced analytics, and more.

Here’s a full overview of Glip’s pricing models:

Glip Pro $0

  • Unlimited voice and video meetings up to 100 participants
  • 24 hours meeting duration
  • Unlimited integrations with project management tools
  • Instant join in—no downloads required
  • Switch calls between devices with a single click

Glip Pro+ $11.99

  • All Glip Pro features, plus:
  • Host up to 200 participants
  • 10GB cloud recording storage per user
  • Single sign-on access
  • Advanced analytics across text messaging, video, and other devices
  • 24/7 customer support

If you want a more robust cloud storage and sharing platform that takes an integrated approach to collaboration and communication, you might want to consider a solution like Glip. This way, your team can do everything from sharing project files to annotating them together in real-time, to initiating a team meeting to discuss project progress—all from the same app.

Basically, what we’re saying is: Why choose an app that only offers cloud storage when your team could have it all with Glip?

Boost your team’s productivity with a unified cloud communications and collaboration platform

Online file storage and cloud backup services are essential parts of any business plan for protecting sensitive business data. However, the best cloud storage platforms have evolved over the years to become much more than what it says on the box.
Business leaders should look for powerful cloud collaboration platforms that offer cloud file storage along with a host of other productivity-enhancing features and third-party integrations. This way, businesses can empower teams with all the tools they need to work efficiently, securely, and productively.
If you want a simple cloud storage solution that does exactly that, and only that, then go ahead! Who are we to stop you? We will, however, give you one final nudge in the direction of Glip by RingCentral.
Meet smarter with unlimited meetings on any device via Glip by RingCentral

Get started with Glip today

If your team could benefit from a powerful, unified solution that combines all your business collaboration, file sharing, and communication needs in one easy-to-use platform—Glip’s the way to go. Did we mention Glip offers free unlimited file storage? Well, now you know.

Want to unlock your team's full potential with Glip? Get started for free today.