We’ve talked a lot recently about the benefits of cloud storage. It enables you or your co-workers to access your files any time you need, even on mobile devices, and it provides instant backup services. However, there are still two good reasons to keep some, if not all of your files on a local server in your office.
If you deal with a lot of large files, particularly video or large graphics files, then getting everything off the cloud every time you need it can take time. Sending updates can be even slower. Even if you have a good quality business connection, it will be much faster to transfer files from a local server via ethernet than over the Net.
A typical office net connection will probably get you about 40 Mbps download, and maybe 5Mbps upload. If you’re using wi-fi to connect to a local server, you’ll see a bit of an improvement, typically up to 54 Mbps. The big advantage is that you’re then getting that speed both ways, so saving and syncing files becomes much faster.
However, if you connect your computers to a local server via ethernet, you’ll get 1Gb both ways – that’s 25 times faster than using the cloud! For small files, such as text-heavy documents, you may not notice the difference. However, if you’re dealing with videos, images or presentations that could be 100Mb or more, then it gets significant. A 100Mb Powerpoint presentation will take under a second to upload to a local server, rather than nearly half a minute to the cloud.
Local servers have the added advantage that they don’t suffer from the same fluctuations in service quality as the net. You don’t have to worry about your bandwidth getting congested when everyone in the area is downloading the latest Game of Thrones, or your ISP or cloud provider having an outage. It’s immensely frustrating when you need to access a critical document for an important client, and you can’t get to it because of some issue totally out of your control. Google doesn’t go down often, but when it does, the entire world seems to grind to a halt.
If you use a local server, you’re not dependent on anyone else for access to your documents. Everything you need is always there when you need it.
Cloud services are mostly fairly secure. They’re not completely hacker-proof, of course, but as long as you take reasonable precautions, it’s highly unlikely anyone will be able to get to your sensitive documents. However, there’s always a risk, particularly if someone has access to or can figure out your password – disgruntled former employees, for example.
Material on a server that’s not connected to the Internet is much safer in many ways. Accessing the data requires physical access to the machine, which means forcing entry to your premises and then hacking into the system. That’s much more complicated than simply logging onto a Web site and taking a peek at what’s in there.
However, remember that if you’re keeping everything locally, then it’s your responsibility to keep everything backed up. Ironically, the best solution is usually to back your server up to the cloud. That way, you have all the benefits of a local machine, as well as the reassurance of knowing that anything vital is stored offsite and can be retrieved any time.