The Best Cloud Storage For Business buyers guide by Inspector Jones

We reviewed 30 of the biggest and best cloud storage services for business so you can access your work on-the-go, keep your data secure, and have access to your latest documents wherever you are.

The Best Cloud Storage for Business

box

Our independent review for Cloud Storage (File Sync and Sharing) selected Box as the best option for businesses. Box provides the combination of excellent functionality for users, and excellent enterprise-level control. They support many different devices for sending files, syncing and accessing data on the go. Box also has good security and a great track record.

I recommend Box for small, medium and large businesses.

The Cloud Storage for Business Shortlist

We’ve reviewed the dozens and dozens of different cloud file storage solutions on the market, for file synchronisation and sharing. This shortlist is the best-of-the-best - enterprise-grade solutions that are proven, well-maintained, and being actively developed. If these vendors don’t fit your specific niche, or are too pricey, I recommend you look at the longer shortlist of business cloud storage options…

What To Look For

The best cloud storage solutions offer great user features, strong administrative functionality for the enterprise, and excellent security. I recommend you review all three of these areas when selecting a vendor. The market for cloud storage is very crowded, and no one vendor dominates. Because of this, there are a large number of small vendors with an uncertain future. This review focuses on vendors with a strong track record, a good number of existing (paying) customers, and a strong team of people supporting, maintaining and developing the application.

User Features

I've found that the top cloud storage solutions for business have very similar features. Some do differentiate themselves in terms of rich functionality (like document editing), or integration with other tools (like mobile device management). The Inspector Jones shortlist is based on the following features, which I recommend that you look for:
  • Synchronise files with mobile devices, with native apps for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry
  • Synchronise files with desktop computers, with support for Windows, Mac and Linux
  • Offline access from mobile / desktop when there is no network connection
  • Access files over the web, via a standard web-browser
  • Ability to share files or folders with anybody (including outside the organisation)
  • Search files (including the text inside documents) and folders
  • View documents from mobile devices (at least Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF)
  • Some solutions allow editing documents from mobile devices or the web interface (Word, Excel, PowerPoint or similar)
  • Some solutions allow annotating documents by adding comments, or drawing changes using a mobile device or the web interface
  • Automatically store version history, and able to restore back to old versions
  • Support for large files (at least 1GB)

Administrative Features

Many of the cloud storage vendors can be eliminated because of their lack of administrative functionality. This can be the deciding factor between one vendor and another. I recommend that you review the following checklist:
  • Set up groups with their own folders and/or workspaces
  • Integration with ActiveDirectory (or your equivalent)
  • Define policies for specific users, devices or groups, at both file-level and folder-level
  • Ability to restrict access to share links outside the organisation
  • Automatic backup and ability to restore to old backups
  • High-availability architecture
  • Encryption of all data - when transmitted across the network, and in storage
  • Encryption of data on mobile devices
  • Ability to remotely wipe data on mobile devices
  • Independent security certification - I prefer ISO27001, however equivalent standards are appropriate
  • Manage storage usage, and reporting
  • Full audit trails
  • Ability to brand with your corporate identity

Special note on security

How to review cloud storage security

Many people mistakenly assume that the most heavily encrypted data is the most secure - this is not entirely true. Data security is:

  1. Making sure the wrong people can't access your data,
  2. Making sure your data stays unchanged from the way you wrote it, and
  3. Ensuring your data is there when you need it.

When reviewing data security, many people underrate the need for availability. However, not being able to access data when you need it, or data loss, is probably the largest data security risk in a cloud file sync and share service. It is critically important that a cloud storage service maintains backups, stores version information, has highly available data stored across multiple locations, and that there is a way to recover data if a user forgets their password.

For the best security, look for the following:

  • A trusted vendor, who has a good track record and financial strength,
  • Independent security certification (like ISO27001),
  • High-quality / high-availability architecture,
  • Strong encryption when transmitted across any network, and
  • Strong encryption whenever data is stored.

Some vendors boast client-side encryption or zero-knowledge file storage (where your data is encrypted / unencrypted on your own device). This is not always a good idea, as it can dramatically increase the risk of data loss.

Integrated Document Editing

Most cloud storage provides great synchronisation and file sharing, but doesn’t let you actually do work on a mobile device.

The two clear leaders in this area are Google and Microsoft, however I definitely recommend looking at the other alternatives, as they all have something to add. This is the shortlist you should look at, if you want to write and edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations on-the-go:

Document Review

Imagine this scenario: you’re out of the office, travelling, and an important document needs your review. All you have is your mobile phone.

These cloud storage apps are our shortlist for when you want to:

  • View documents on-the-go, but not necessarily edit them, and
  • Add comments / changes, or approve documents from a mobile device

On-Premise Deployment

For many organisations, the type of information that staff want to carry with them is inherently high risk. It might not be feasible to store this information in the cloud.

These options provide you with mobile sync and sharing to all of your staff devices (even bring-your-own devices), without moving your data to the cloud. They work by integrating with your existing data storage, or implementing new storage within your own data center.

Longer Shortlist of Business Cloud Storage

If you’d like to look further afield, perhaps for a cheaper price, more specific functionality, or you have a particular niche that the system needs to fit, I recommend reviewing the following vendors. These are all enterprise-grade vendors, which have got a solid review from our analysis.

All Cloud Storage