Tech Update: Business in the cloud

Tech Update: Cloud storage and file transfers

Online storage of data has become simpler to use and more secure over the last couple of years. As a result, many small manufacturing businesses have become comfortable with using it for a variety of purposes. In this tech update we will look at some of the most common uses and link to an article about broader applications in mainstream manufacturing.

Basics and best practices

First, unless you already understand cloud storage or have a strong recommendation from someone who is using a service in the way you would use it, give a couple of cloud storage services a test drive before you settle on what’s right for you. Some services just don’t work very well unless you install their local drive software on your system – and that’s something we don’t recommend doing if it can possibly be avoided. Installing the local “drive” on your computer can cause issues with software if it tries to update while critical program files are being used and it can also pose personal and system security risks.

When you decide on an online data storage service be sure to fine tune your processes and see how much data you are actually going to use before adding to the free amount of storage that most services include. Many shops I have worked with have opted for larger amounts of storage right off the bat and found out that there is no easy way to go back to free after they discovered that they didn’t need more than the free amount.

Using the cloud for customers and vendors

If you are going to use a cloud storage service to let your customers or vendors view or download drawings and specs, be sure you choose one that has the right access options. Google Drive, for example, is one of the best free cloud storage options out there right now but anyone that is going to access it must have a Gmail or Google+ account. Some people won’t want to sign up for another email or social network in order to use your cloud service. Other services like Asus cloud storage don’t have such restrictions. You should also be sure you fully understand all of the methods for creating different folders and sub-folders that have different privacy settings before you invite others to use your cloud.

Is there a cloud on your horizon?

Yes, it’s another learning curve and another part of your computerized business life to manage, so the question for most people considering the cloud is this: Is it worth the trouble? That depends. If you can benefit in terms of saving time and money and having a higher quality of communication by making PDF copies of  business documents and images available to anyone you wish, then the answer is yes. If you can make use of a fairly simple way to have your work files available to you anywhere you want to access them, yes again. If you need customers and vendors to be able to upload many or large files rather than sending them in email or on a disk, the cloud is definitely worth the trouble.

Beyond those most common uses, whether or not the cloud is worth the extra effort is less clear and more individualized. There was an article about the cloud and many more ways manufacturing businesses are using it recently on Thomas News Net’s website. Click the link below to read more about it:

Manufacturing Finds Its Way Into the Cloud