Free online storage offers can be attractive to SMBs on tight budgets, but they
carry compliance and security risks that SMBs often ignore or may not
While free online storage or free online backups may sound
sweet to small businesses looking to make the best use of their limited budgets,
the reality is that the cost of a properly managed, fully compliant backup is
worth far more than its cost.
That’s the word from providers of
cloud-based storage and backups that every day deal with clients who are
attracted by the lure of free storage but who may not understand the potential
ramifications of trusting their precious business data to technology more
targeted at consumers looking to back up photos and audio files.
Cloud-based storage, whether used for backing up data, adding disaster
recovery, or even storing primary data, is becoming a major part of the IT
There are many sites that offer cost-free file storage, but be aware that stored files, whether stored on internal and external drives, face a variety of dangers of being lost because of virus, corruption or crashes.
Advantages of free sites are, for example, files can be shared in situations where e-mail attachments of large documents can be sent. It is much easier just to send a link to the document. In addition, personal files like photographs, videos and music files can be shared publicly or privately through free file storage sites.
However, one must remember online storage companies don’t guarantee customers a fail-safe backup system and legal experts say there is generally little recourse for consumers in the event of data loss when using such services.
“In general, consumers are out of luck,” said Ira Rothken, an attorney based in San Rafael, Calif., who has litigated such cases in the past. “Frankly, it’s understandable. There are always going to be glitches that lead to data loss.” He said consumers can protect themselves by ensuring that valuable files are adequately backed up. Some Web-based e-mail services, such as Yahoo Mail, allow customers to download e-mail to their desktops and retrieve them using a PC-based e-mail client such as Microsoft’s Outlook.