Small Office Computing: Google Drive Vs. Dedicated Server
January 14, 2015
For the last year I have been seeing a lot of my clients as well as other small businesses migrate away from having their own dedicated file server for their network. Previously (before two years ago), most small companies had to have a dedicated computer that acted as a file server in order to share data with other users on their network. With the advances in cloud computing, Such as Google Drive, some of these businesses now have the option of using a cloud based hosting solution and not having a local server. There are advantages and disadvantages.
A Cloud Hosted Solution Such as, Google Drive Offers:
No Maintenance Cost for your own server.
Sharing Data between multiple computers, including remote offices without complex network schemes or servers.
Low monthly cost ($1.99 to $10.00 per month).
Having your data offsite and easily accessible by remote locations in the case of a hard drive failure, fire, theft, etc.
A Cloud Hosting Package Such as, Google Drive is appropriate for:
Offices that have fewer than 10 computers
Need to be able to access documents and data remotely from at home or while on the road.
Data being stored is: Documents, Spreadsheets, Photos, Audio, Video.
Have a fast and reliable internet connection (Cable Modem speeds of at least 6 Meg Download and 3 Meg Upload).
When it is not appropriate for Google Drive:
Slow and unreliable internet connection
Using Databases that require SQL.
Using Quickbooks in Multi-User mode
More than 10 computers or a very active network with a lot of files being opened/saved daily.
Is not appropriate for shared Databases or Multi-User versions of Quickbooks (Of note: There are cloud servers that are appropriate for this but in my opinion not Google Drive).
Data breaches: Your data is only as secure as the company hosting it. Always use two step authentication modes for data.
If you are securing confidential data, use Google Drive for WORK (Newer Product that is similar to Google Drive but uses Encryption - as of 1/14/2015 price is $10 per user per month.
If your internet connection is down, your data sharing will be down. You can still work and access your data (Google Drive keeps all of the data on your PC and synchronizes a copy to the cloud for other users and vice/versa).
File Locking issues and sycn issues were common in the early stages of the software. The majority of these issues have been resolved.
ABSOLUTELY MANDATORY THAT YOU STILL PERFORM A BACKUP of your Data to a removable storage device, such as a USB Drive.
No need for a dedicated server, which requires maintenance, security updates and the initial cost of the hardware and replacement of the server every so many years.
Data is accessible anywhere from any computer that has an internet connection and the correct user credentials.
Easy to use.
Google Drive is not applicable for every business but when your business network needs align appropriately with what Google Drive has to offer, it can be a game changer in regards to cost and time of maintaining a dedicated server.
The best way to decide whether Google Drive would work as a file server substitute is to have a trained computer professional evaluate your network needs to see if Google Drive is a good fit.
These are my observations and opinions of using Google Drive over the last 12 months. Hopefully you found this article helpful.