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November 19, 2014

8 best cloud storage providers for business

Collaboration and backup is easier in the cloud, but which service is right for you?

By Jimmy Nicholls

The era of the cloud has ushered in a great many opportunities for business, not the least of them enterprise storage. Keeping files on the cloud allows for ease of access and facilitates collaboration – both important attributes for companies looking to make the most of their IT.

But that still leaves the question of which vendor is best positioned to serve your needs. In this piece, we outline the big players in the industry and tell you what you get for your money.

1. Dropbox

Price: From £11 per user per month
Dropbox is one of the heavy hitters in the storage industry, and features an extensive range of features for its storage service. Basic storage is augmented with auditing, file recovery, and remote wipe and account transfer.

Users can access the cloud from most devices and operating systems, including Windows, Android, iOS, Mac and Linux, and a recent partnership with Microsoft has further extended integration with the Office 365 Suite that many firms are already using.

2. Google Drive for Work

Price: £3.30 per user per month
Many will be familiar with Google Drive, the personal cloud storage firm from the search engine. Google Drive for Work follows a similar format, adding extra controls, an auditing view, and more storage to meet the demands of business.

Another neat feature copied from the personal release is the inclusion of Google Docs, the firm’s suite of office apps, including a word processor, a spreadsheet program and presentation software. The service is also integrated with Microsoft Office.

3. Box

Price: From £3.50 per user per month
Box is often compared alongside its rival Dropbox, both firms being recent start-ups vying for the market’s attention. They now offer very similar services, but Box has added extra automation for keeping folders tidy, as well as adding security alerts for system admins.

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Following an earlier spat with the software vendor Microsoft relations between the firms have repaired themselves, and Office is now integrated with the storage platform. Box also offers consulting services to help customers make the most of the technology.

4. Microsoft OneDrive for Business

Price: £3.10 per user per month
Microsoft’s offering in the cloud storage market is lower key than some of its leaner competitors, lacking some of the automation and consulting features of rivals. Yet with Office Online, the browser based version of the company’s productivity suite, the company sits on a level pegging with Google, which has its own suite Docs integrated into the storage platform.

OneDrive syncs across devices, and the collaboration tools can be linked up with Yammer, the company’s enterprise social network. Altogether this should be attractive to existing Microsoft enterprise software customers.

5. iCloud Drive

Price: From nothing
iCloud’s reputation took a hammering this summer after the service was embroiled in the naked celebrity photo scandal, also called the Fappening. With the latest update to the service Apple are still not looking to target the business market, but it still remains viable for moderate use.

That said, they do not make it easy for you. Users must have iOS 8 on their phone or tablet to use the drive, while Mac users require OS X Yosemite, the latest release. And once you are set up it handles like any other personal cloud service.

6. Zoolz Business

Price: From £200 per year
Zoolz killer feature is its so-called "tribrid" (triple hybrid) backup system, which stores files in a local location, on instant cloud storage and on "cold" cloud storage, a kind of archiving service.

Other than that the service is fairly standard, including user management, a mobile app, and auditing. The system runs off the back of Amazon Web Services (AWS), which has infrastructure spread across the globe, making this suitable for businesses running in almost any locale.

7. OpenDrive

Price: From £20 per month
OpenDrive is another lesser known player in the business storage market, but contains an array of features making it worthy of your consideration. The normal user management controls are present, alongside options for sharing with those outside the business.

More impressive still is the inclusion of a Microsoft Office suite, putting it alongside the likes of Box and Dropbox for siding with the software vendor.

8. MozyPro

Price: From £7 per month
Mozy touts itself as a backup service firstly, and as such has greater capacity for scheduling backups than its "always on" competitors on this list. By setting backup to continuous it turns into a full enterprise cloud service, and you can access files wherever you choose on a range of devices.

Users can also set bandwidth settings to further constrain the service and keep costs down, and protection is doubled on a local drive and at a Mozy data centre.

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