The 5 Cloud Storage Features Remote Teams Need

Cloud storage services have evolved to become more than simple depositories for digital files. They now offer a variety of features that make communication and collaboration simpler for workers. This is especially true for remote teams.

Remote workers face unique challenges that can hinder productivity. Cloud storage allows distributed teams to share data securely, easily access files from anywhere, and seamlessly collaborate with colleagues no matter the physical distance between them. 

Below are the five cloud storage features that are most beneficial for your remote workforce.

Easy and secure file sharing

A recent article from The Harvard Business Review noted that “remote workers are often surprised by the added time and effort needed to locate information from coworkers. Even getting answers to what seem like simple questions can feel like a large obstacle to a worker based at home.” 

When an employee can’t just pop into their coworker’s office with a quick question, fast, effortless file sharing becomes essential. 

Relying on email to share files means dealing with inconvenient file size limits, and using FTP can take a very long time. Having a quick and easy file sharing solution helps alleviate this headache for you and your employees. With the right cloud storage provider, your team can share files almost instantly, whether they’re small or large. 

Hilco Industrial, a Onehub client, uses our easy and secure file sharing for their widespread mobile workforce. “I just drag and drop to upload documents, and then set permissions. Whether our people work from an office or with mobile devices, they can get the documents they need more easily than through email,” says Valery Moody, Hilco’s Director of Operations.

Security is another primary concern for file sharing across remote teams. Cloud service providers take data security seriously and invest in protocols that will keep your company’s sensitive data safe. 

The details of security protocols will vary by provider. To ensure you’re choosing the safest option, look for cloud storage providers that offer bank-level encryption, two-factor authentication, customizable roles and permissions, data room options, and encrypted automatic backups across multiple facilities. 

With these types of security measures in place, remote teams can confidently share sensitive data amongst their colleagues.

Communication tools

Good communication is at the heart of every successful team, but it can be a serious challenge for remote workers. In addition to making collaboration difficult, unclear communication is one of the top contributors to employee burnout

To overcome this, remote workers need to have easy access to communication tools to help them gain clarity about a project or quickly relay important information to the rest of the group. A great cloud storage solution will offer a variety of ways for users to communicate with each other. 

Onehub offers robust communication tools that allow users to send messages, leave comments at the file or folder level, assign tasks, approve or reject document changes, and receive notifications. Cindy Hearn, Sales & Marketing Specialist at RPG, says, “It’s been great for everyone to have the real-time collaboration, notifications, and efficiencies that come with using Onehub.”

When remote employees can easily connect with their team members, they can better manage their workloads and feel less overwhelmed or isolated. 

Real-time file syncing

Automatic file syncing is a must for efficient remote collaboration. Most of us are familiar with the frustration of making edits or additions to a document only to find out it’s an outdated version. It slows down the overall workflow of a project and can cause a lot of confusion. 

Using a cloud storage provider that offers automatic file syncing means everyone can access the most up-to-date documents in real-time, no matter where they’re working from or what device they’re using. 

Hilco relies on real-time file syncing for its frequent group-based document editing. Its distributed workforce can work confidently, knowing that the project spreadsheets are continuously updated. Everyone sees the same information, which saves time and prevents confusion.

Automatic file versioning

Many business files are living documents that are regularly updated, and project files often go through half a dozen revisions before being finalized. This can create problems when you’re trying to determine which version of a file is the latest iteration or when you need to retrieve past information that’s since been updated. 

Automatic file versioning solves all those issues. All changes made to a document are recorded and saved within that file. Employees don’t have to worry about naming and keeping track of different versions of files or losing information. If they need to roll back changes to a document, it’s quick and easy to restore a previous version from the file’s edit history.

This simple but powerful feature is a must-have for remote teams and a game-changer for collaborative projects. Without it, tracking down previous versions of a file is a nightmare, especially if employees save files locally instead of in the cloud

View and edit files without downloading

Shaving a few seconds off the traditional process of locating a file, downloading it, and opening it in another application may not seem like a substantial benefit at first, but think about how many times each day you interact with digital files. Everyone on your remote team handles a similar amount of files daily, and all those seconds add up quickly across multiple employees. It’s time wasted, and it’s also an unnecessary frustration that can disrupt an employee’s focus. 

It’s also a huge convenience to be able to create and edit files directly within a browser. Integrations with software such as Office 365 or Google Drive allows employees to speed up the time it takes to do these small but frequent tasks. With in-browser viewing and editing, you can finish updating a document in the time it would usually take just to download and open the file. 

Having the right tools for the job is essential. Give your remote team everything they need to do their best work. With a free, 14-day Onehub trial, you can see what a difference having the right tools can make.

Best Practices for Organizing Business Files

Tired of digging through an endless sea of folders and files to find that one document you need? You’re not alone. Your employees are right there with you. 

Employees spend about 19% of their workweek searching for information. That’s a big chunk of time, and as we all know, time is money. In addition to costing your company money and stressing out your employees, a poor file structure can jeopardize the security of your files and make onboarding new hires a messy process.

The best practices covered below can be applied to any type of data storage method, whether it’s cloud-based or a local server. However, specialty platforms such as Onehub make the transition simple and intuitive. 

Remember to plan your folder structure around your long-term business goals. If your company is a startup or a steadily growing small business, you’ll want a file structure that you can grow into. It’s much easier to maintain organized files when you don’t have to rethink the structure in a couple of years. Restructuring means you’ll have to move files into new folders, which can break hyperlinks that direct to those files.

Pick a top-level folder structure that works for your business.

Your top-level folders’ structure will depend on the type of business you have and how your employees tend to work. That said, there are common structures that accommodate a range of company types and working styles.

Onehub users can use Workspaces as a top-level folder and house all relevant files within that Workspace. From there, users can easily and securely share files with others, assign tasks, approve file changes, and leave comments on a file or folder.

Departments

This structure works well for companies that have departments that function as microcosms. If your company has a marketing department, an HR department, an IT department, etc., it’s best to create a top-level folder for each of them. This will allow workers in those departments to access files relevant to their work quickly. 

Clients

Client-based companies such as property management agencies may find it useful to structure their files around clients. An easy way to do this is to create a top-level Clients folder and then add a subfolder for each client. If you have (or plan to have) hundreds of clients, a list of client subfolders may become overwhelmingly long and difficult to scroll through quickly. To solve this, 

create subfolders for each letter of the alphabet or a range of letters. You’ll then add a folder for each client under the appropriate letter or range. 

Products or Services 

If your company focuses on specific products or services, creating top-level folders for each product/service is a good way to go. A marketing agency could have top-level folders named after its services such as Web Design, Branding, and Advertising. The exact folder names will depend on your business offerings, but the general principle applies to all product or service-based companies. 

Create subfolders based on feedback from your team.

Your team handles the details of day-to-day operations, so they know what subfolder organization would work best for them. Allow them to brainstorm the subfolder topics to meet their needs. Have the managers over each department, product, or service review the list of subfolder suggestions and decide which ones to implement. 

To make your digital files easy to find, keep in mind the number of clicks it will take to get to a file. If you’ve nested files within 8 levels of subfolders, it will take a lot of clicking to get to the files you want. Burying files too deep in subfolders makes it frustrating to get to them and also makes it less likely you or your team will take the time to file new documents correctly. 

Another common pitfall to watch out for is storing too many files within one folder. If your employees have to scroll through 50 files to get to the one they need, they could benefit from a subfolder to add another layer of organization.

Tips for subfolders

  1. For folders that include dates, put dates in a format that will keep them in chronological order, such as YYMMDD. 
  2. Include Draft and Final subfolders for documents that go through multiple updates. As an example, a marketing department may have a folder string that looks like this: Client Name > Proposals > Draft > Filename.
  3. Many top-level folders can benefit from an Archive subfolder. Archive folders make it easy to store outdated business files that may be needed in the future. 

Establish file-naming conventions.

Descriptive, standardized file-naming conventions are an essential part of a well-functioning folder hierarchy. Being able to quickly find information saves employees time and frustration and helps your organization run more smoothly.  

Tips for file names

  1. Don’t use special characters.
  2. Be descriptive. You should know at a glance exactly what information a file contains. Never use a generic file name such as Invoice.doc. Even though the folder name provides context (e.g., ClientA > Invoices > 2020 > May > Invoice.doc), it makes it difficult to find the file using the search function. A better name for this file would be ClientA-Invoice-202005.
  3. Create a naming system for documents that go through multiple iterations. A simple method for this is to include a version number at the end of the file name for a document that’s still being shuffled through the revision process. Use FINAL for the final approved version. (Examples: ClientName-Proposal-v.1 and ClientName-Proposal-FINAL)

Document the process.

Even the most thought-out, practical folder structure won’t work if people aren’t following it. You have to get everyone on the same page and provide documentation that employees can review if they forget a naming convention. You should also make this document part of your onboarding guide. It can be challenging to break employees of old habits, but if you train new hires on the proper folder and file procedures, they’re much more likely to stick to them. 

Keep business files secure by assigning roles and permissions. 

Whether you’re using a local server or a cloud storage provider, you should have settings that allow you to protect sensitive files. The process and terminology for setting up user roles and sharing permissions will vary greatly depending on your file storage method, so we’ll cover Onehub’s options for roles and permissions. 

Onehub uses a role-based permission system with 7 access levels to give you granular control over your business files and folders. It’s simple to add or remove permissions at any time. To ensure you’re assigning the right level of access, you can preview what the folder or file will look like to someone in that role. This means you can confidently and securely share your files.

Already have a great business file structure?

If you have a great file structure but need a new storage and file-sharing solution, Onehub makes it easy to transfer your file storage hierarchy with a simple drag and drop. Your structure will be maintained, and you won’t have to move files over individually. 

You can test-drive Onehub’s file storage and sharing capabilities with a free trial — no credit card required. 

Keep Your Business Data Safe and Secure With Onehub

Data security is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing how to store and share your business files. Some company decision-makers are hesitant to upgrade to cloud storage and file sharing due to concerns about protecting sensitive information. While no file storage solution is foolproof, cloud storage offers advanced protections that local servers can’t provide.

In a 2020 report, IBM revealed that the average cost of a data breach is $3.84 million. That’s a devastating price tag for many companies. In addition to the monetary losses, compromised data can also erase valuable information or damage your company’s reputation with customers. 

Onehub understands that if your data isn’t safe, nothing else matters. We dedicate significant time to developing and implementing the most secure safety protocols to protect your intellectual property and other sensitive files. 

Onehub security features

Bank-level protection means your data is as secure as your money. 

Cloud storage operates almost like a bank. In both cases, customers store something valuable with a third party and rely on the more expansive security options a third party can provide. 

Onehub continues the similarities by using the same 256-bit encryption and physical security policies as banks for the most secure cloud storage experience. We also use Secure Sockets Layers (SSL) to establish encrypted links between networked computers. Every communication is sent over this secure connection. Our service has 24/7 monitoring, and our practices are verified by VeriSign, a trusted resource for identifying safe, legitimate websites and security practices.

Encrypted backups across multiple facilities keep your information secure no matter what challenges arise.

Backing up your files is a fundamental tenet of data security. Many business owners feel more confident in the safety of their information when files are on an in-house server. This does make data somewhat more secure from hackers, but it doesn’t protect your valuable documents from a server crash, damaged hardware, or human error. It’s also much more expensive than the cloud, with hefty up-front investments in hardware and ongoing costs for critical maintenance.

Even if you want to stick with a local server for your primary file sharing and storage needs, there are significant benefits to using the cloud for your backups. 

With Onehub, your backups are encrypted using 256-bit encryption and stored across multiple devices and multiple facilities. This protects your data from online threats as well as any hardware failures or natural disasters. 

We regularly assess the integrity of your data using checksums, an alphanumeric value that represents the data on a file. If we find any flaws, we automatically repair them using redundant data, so your business never misses a beat. 

Two-factor authentication keeps your files secure even if your passwords are compromised.

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a quick additional login step that ups the security of your accounts. Using an authorized device such as your cell phone, you’ll receive a randomly generated login code after entering your username and password. This code can be obtained either by an authenticator app or via text message. Without the code, your login can’t be completed. This means that even if a hacker steals your username and password, they can’t access your account. 

According to Google’s research, two-factor authentication helps “block 100% of automated bots, 96% of bulk phishing attacks, and 76% of targeted attacks.” Essentially, 2FA adds another layer of protection to your account, meaning you don’t have to stress about the safety of your sensitive company information.

Onehub clients with Advanced, Unlimited, and Data Room plans can require users to enable 2FA to ensure documents are protected across every user. You can follow these steps to enable two-factor authentication in your Onehub account. 

Data rooms provide the highest level of security for your most confidential files.

The first step to secure cloud storage and file sharing is understanding what level of security you need. If your company needs to share files that contain highly confidential information (e.g., company acquisitions, due diligence process, IPOs, funding rounds), you need a storage solution with the highest protection level.

You might ask, “Why not choose the most secure option every time?” Well, you definitely can do that, but it’s the difference between storing your data in a bank vault and storing it in Fort Knox. Both are very secure, but one offers top-level security that comes with a higher price tag. To keep costs low, you want to align your security level with the level of confidentiality your documents require.

When you do need Fort Knox, we’ve got you covered with virtual data rooms, our most secure cloud storage option. You can turn any traditional Workspace into a data room, ratcheting up file sharing security with distinct features such as the ability to partition file access or to keep users and their activities anonymous from other parties.

Roles and permissions let you customize the way each person can interact with your files.

Securely sending your files to another user is just the first step. Once they receive the data, you need to decide what they’re allowed to do with them from there. 

Our roles and permissions features allow you to confidently share documents with customers or employees by controlling what level of access each person is allowed to have. We provide seven levels of roles, from viewer to administrator, that enable you to customize access on a granular level. 

Meetup, a Onehub client, regularly uses customizable roles to share corporate documents with shareholders and potential investors securely. Meetup Attorney David Pashman says, “The consumer-based file sharing services we were already using didn’t have the level of granularity we needed for controlling access and privileges…Onehub lets us control whether someone has the right to print or share our files, which is important to our business.” 

Audit trails and document watermarks allow you to trace the usage history back to the source to maintain user compliance.

Our audit trails give you all the information you need to protect your data. You can track and audit anything a user does in a Workspace. Enable notifications to be alerted when someone accesses a Workspace, views a preview, downloads a file, or prints a document. This helps you maintain user compliance, so you know your data is being used correctly.

Document watermarks enable you to safely share confidential information by customizing each watermark to the individual user. When watermarking is activated, “CONFIDENTIAL” appears across the document along with the viewer’s email address or an IP address for guest users. If the user leaks your confidential files, either intentionally or by mistake, you can trace the information back to the source quickly. Once a watermark is added to a file, it can’t be edited or removed by the recipient. 

Don’t take risks with your company’s valuable data. 

We do everything in our power to keep our customers safe from the latest threats. Use Onehub for your secure cloud storage and file sharing needs. Try Onehub for free to see our security features in action. 

The Best Tech Gifts for Everyone on Your List

It’s been a tough year, but it’s not too late to spread some cheer to your friends and family (and yourself!). The holidays are quickly approaching, so we’ve created a guide to help you find the perfect tech gifts to give this year. 

Tech gifts for adults

Rocketbook Wave $21.49

This environmentally friendly notebook is next level. You write in it as you would any notebook, but then your notes are digitally processed and saved to the cloud. You’ll never lose your notes, and they are easily searchable. And the best part? It’s endlessly reusable — just pop it in the microwave (yes, you read that right) to remove all of your notes. This is the perfect gift for pretty much anyone on your list. 

Smart Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock — $45.96

Humans are wired to wake up with the sun, but that isn’t always an option. The Smart Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock mimics being slowly awakened by the rising sun. Give this gift to anyone you know who isn’t usually a morning person. They will appreciate the gentle wake-up and the ability to change the light’s color and brightness to create the perfect customized alarm clock.

Sennheiser HD 450BT Noise-Cancelling Headphones — $149.95

Nearly 88% of companies worldwide have encouraged employees to work from home because of COVID-19 (Gartner). It’s safe to say, at least one adult on your Christmas list has been trying to adapt to a new work-from-home lifestyle that is inherently full of noisy distractions. These wireless headphones offer superior sound quality with active noise cancellation for a distraction-free work environment.

Gadget Discovery Club — $23 – $32 per box

This is an excellent gift for the gadget-obsessed. Gadget Discovery Club describes its curated gadgets as “epic” and “life changing.” Each month, your friend will receive one expertly curated gadget they’re sure to love. Past devices include the RISE miniBOOM wireless portable speaker and a Smoovii wireless blender. Whatever lucky person gets this gift will enjoy the excitement of a new surprise gadget every month.

iLive UV Sanitizer with Wireless Phone Charging and Aromatherapy — $39.99

There are over 25,000 bacteria per square inch on the average cell phone (StateFoodSafety). Give your loved one the ability to zap all those germs on their cell phone. The iLive UV Sanitizer works well for other small objects, too, such as toothbrushes or car keys. This multipurpose device is also a wireless phone charger and has an aromatherapy feature. It’s small enough to take everywhere and sanitize on the go. 

Tech gifts for kids

DIY Synth Kit — $40

Music buffs and techies alike will be obsessed with this unique DIY synth kit. They can create three different mini-synthesizers and experiment with pitch, frequency, and volume to create their own unique electronic music. There’s a ton of fun packed into this little kit!

Long-Distance Touch Bracelet for Friends — $98

It’s no surprise that stay-at-home orders and social distancing have been particularly tough for kids. Not being able to socialize with friends is stressful and isolating. These long-distance touch bracelets allow two friends to stay connected even though they’re far apart. A tap on one bracelet makes the other light up and vibrate, letting that person know their friend is thinking of them. They can also create a secret code of taps to send special messages. It’s a fun, thoughtful gift that any kid in your life would love to have.

Bitsbox Coding for Kids — $16.95 – $37.95 per month

Bitsbox is a monthly subscription service that teaches kids ages 6-12 how to code. Each box contains resources that help illustrate a new computer science concept. Kids use those resources to build apps on the easy-to-use Bitsbox website, and the apps they create will work on any mobile device. Coding is a great skill for children to develop, and being able to use their creations means this is a gift that keeps on giving. 

Smartphone-Controlled Paper Airplane — $50

Do you remember all the fun you had as a kid trying to design a paper airplane that would actually fly? This is the 2020 version of that. This Bluetooth-controlled update of the paper airplane is made from crash-proof carbon fiber “paper,” flies up to 25 mph and can pull off some serious tricks. It also comes with a desk stand to safely put the plane away when it’s not in use.

Tech gifts for pet owners

SureFlap Microchip Pet Door — $200

A pet door can be a great convenience for dog and cat owners. Their pets can come and go as they please without needing any assistance from their human companions. The only drawback is the risk of unwanted animals waltzing in. SureFlap resolves this issue by adding a microchip scanner that reads your pet’s implanted microchip to allow them to go in or out. They also have programmable collars for pets without microchips. It’s a gift of convenience for both your friend and their pet. 

GoDogGo Fetch Machine G4 — $149.95

This is a thoughtful gift for the work-from-home dog owner. Dogs don’t understand remote work. In their eyes, you’re home, so it’s time to play. When you’re busy and need to keep the dog occupied, this automatic ball launcher is worth its weight in gold. It keeps your pup busy while providing great exercise and mental stimulation.

PetChatz Interactive Pet Camera — $329.99

Almost all pet owners are curious about what their furry friends get up to when they’re not around. This interactive pet camera is described as “digital daycare for the home alone pet.” It keeps track of a pet’s activities and has a remote treat dispenser, two-way audiovisual interaction, calming aromatherapy, and motion-triggered video recording. It’s an all-in-one gadget that any friend or family member with a pet would be excited to receive.

Happy shopping!

How Onehub Can Help You Prevent Employee Burnout

What exactly is burnout?

Work burnout is a state of chronic emotional distress caused by work-related stress. Gallup, a globally recognized analytics company, released a report on employee burnout. It found that 76% of employees experience burnout at least sometimes, and 28% experience it “very often” or “always.”

This report was released in 2019, well before “pandemic” became a household word. There’s little doubt that the rate of burnout has gone up now that nearly every employee has had to adapt to drastic changes in how they do their jobs and live their daily lives.

How does burnout affect employees?

Work burnout takes a heavy toll on your employees’ physical and mental health. It can lead to depression, apathy, irritability, insomnia, and even physical ailments such as headaches and digestive issues. It’s difficult for an employee suffering from burnout to manage these symptoms, and eventually, it will impact their work performance. 

1. Job dissatisfaction

Feeling stressed out at work every day is a huge emotional burden. Burned-out employees are more likely to be actively looking for another job. In 2017, the average cost of training a new employee was $1,886. It’s less expensive to examine the common causes of work burnout and address those issues within your organization than it is to keep replacing employees as they burn out and quit.

2. Sick days

Burned out employees take more sick days than usual due to their feelings of exhaustion and malaise. People often can’t pinpoint the exact cause of their issues and may mistake burnout for an actual illness.

3. Underperforming

Burned out employees can’t recover through sheer willpower. No matter how herculean their efforts, their performance will slip unless changes are made to address the workplace issues dragging them down. 

4. Self-doubt

One of the most emotionally debilitating aspects of burnout is an ever-growing sense of self-doubt. It turns your once-confident employee into someone who second-guesses every decision and needs much more guidance than before to successfully complete a project. 

5. Bad attitude 

We all know how difficult it is to keep a positive attitude when we feel exhausted, stressed, and miserable. Employees with burnout can only keep their issues bottled up for so long before they start seeping out in the form of cynical comments, exasperation, or passive aggression. This type of behavior can quickly bring morale down for your whole team and increases the risk of burnout for others.

In contrast to the harmful effects of employee burnout, “engaged employees who have job flexibility tend to work more hours per week than the average employee, while reporting higher wellbeing. When people feel inspired, motivated, and supported in their work, they do more work — and that work is significantly less stressful on their overall health and wellbeing.” (Gallup)

How can Onehub help you prevent employee burnout? 

It can be difficult to recognize burnout in your employees due to the personal nature of many of the symptoms such as depression, self-doubt, and insomnia. The effects burnout has on an employee’s work can often be mistaken for them having a bad week or feeling under the weather. It’s more effective to create a work environment that helps prevent the common causes of burnout rather than trying to address it in individual employees. 

The most common causes of employee burnout:

  1. Unmanageable workload
  2. Lack of clear communication from managers
  3. Feeling unsupported by management or colleagues 

In addition to Onehub’s cloud storage and document sharing solutions, you can also create multiple online Workspaces to use with employees. Using a digital Workspace promotes clear communication, effortless collaboration, and support from managers, helping employees do their best work. It’s one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to prevent employee burnout. 

According to Gallup’s report, “Employees who have a space that helps them connect with coworkers are 26% less likely to feel burnout frequently.” In the past, this collaborative space took the form of conference rooms. Today, many companies operate with remote teams, whether by choice or as a result of COVID-19. The new era of collaboration resides in digital Workspaces. 

When you create a Workspace with Onehub, you’re setting up a structured, collaborative environment for your employees to work within. Once invited to the Workspace, employees have access to the time-saving and easy-to-use features below.

Comments and messages promote communication between team members.

A clear way to connect with team members and management makes employees feel more comfortable reaching out for additional information or support when needed instead of trying to power through on their own. Employees can post comments on files or folders and can easily communicate with everyone in the Workspace by posting messages for collaborators.

Tasks help employees keep track of their workload.

Workspace users can assign tasks to themselves or others, assuring every aspect of even the most complex projects is done. Your team can comment on tasks and track them toward completion on the tasks page. If an employee has a question about an assignment, they can reply to the task asking for clarification. It’s a fast, organized way to track what needs to be done and communicate with team members about specific items on the to-do list.

File syncing and versioning means employees always have the most updated information.

Trying to collaborate on a file saved to a local server often results in multiple unsynced versions, leaving employees confused and increasing the risk of mistakes. Using Onehub sync ensures workers always have the most up-to-date versions of files. They can also quickly restore older file versions if needed, meaning nothing important is ever lost. 

High-quality online previews save time. 

Viewing high-quality previews directly in a browser means employees don’t have to waste time downloading a file and opening another application to view it. They can quickly preview files, whether they’re at their desk or on the go with only their phone for access.

Full-text searches quickly retrieve files. 

Constantly sorting through files on a local server with limited search features wastes time, adding additional work hours to the week and piling on more stress. Onehub improves searches by securely indexing every word in the files uploaded to a Workspace. This allows users to quickly search through their entire account to find what they’re looking for every time. 

Favorites keep your most-used Workspaces at the ready.

Employees can pin their most-used Workspaces to keep them at the top of the homepage. This shortcut means employees don’t have to endlessly scroll to find the Workspaces they use daily. It’s a handy time-saver and keeps the most essential work top of mind.

Onehub’s Workspaces provide the supportive infrastructure your workers need to avoid costly burnout. You can try Onehub for free, no strings attached, to see how much it improves your team’s performance.

The Best Alternatives to Local Servers for File Sharing

Sharing digital files is an integral part of business operations. A 2016 Hubspot study revealed the average business stores 162.9 terabytes of data. These businesses estimated their accumulated data would increase by over 50% within a year and a half. That data represents priceless information, but it’s only useful if you can share it with other users quickly and securely. 

Local servers are the traditional method of file storage and sharing, but they have many disadvantages. Luckily, your options for file sharing are growing as steadily as your company’s digital mountain of data. 

Pitfalls of local servers for storage and file sharing

Expensive hardware and ongoing maintenance

A dedicated server requires a significant up-front investment in hardware. For a small business, this can range from $1,000 to $5,000, and of course, the price point goes up for larger companies with more robust server requirements.

And that isn’t just a one-time expense. Server hardware needs to be updated every three to five years to keep it running optimally. You’ll need IT support to install new hardware and ongoing help for maintenance and troubleshooting. 

These hidden costs add up quickly, making on-premise servers an expensive option for data storage and file sharing.

Difficult to collaborate on projects

Your local server is great for file sharing if you’re shooting over an email attachment to a colleague as an FYI, but things get complicated when a team needs to collaborate on a document. 

When sharing files using a dedicated server, each employee on the project will have their own version of the file. Your team can’t work together in the same document to make real-time changes or leave feedback, so they’re essentially working in isolation. 

Vulnerable to data loss and downtime

A new server’s failure rate is 5%, but this statistic jumps up to 11% for a four-year-old server and continually increases as your server ages. Regular server backups are an essential best practice, but you may still lose any new data added between the last backup and the server crashing. Server failure also means significant downtime, which costs your company money.

Alternatives to local servers for file sharing

Cloud storage 

Cloud storage and file sharing via a hosting service is an easy, cost-effective option for businesses. You choose a provider that suits your company’s needs and upload files to a secure cloud server. You can access your data or share files from any device anywhere in the world with an internet connection. 

High-level security

Cloud storage is casually referred to as “the cloud” now. That colloquial term conjures images of your data freely floating around with no security, but that isn’t the case. Cloud service providers take data security seriously. 

For example, if you use Onehub for your file sharing, your data is protected by bank-level encryption and security policies. It’s automatically backed up across multiple devices in multiple facilities, so if disaster strikes, you won’t experience any data loss or downtime. 

Less expensive and easy to scale

With a traditional server, scaling up requires purchasing additional hardware, and scaling down leaves you with an expensive piece of equipment you don’t need.

Because everything is virtual with the cloud, there’s no expensive hardware to buy or maintain. The upfront costs are minimal, and you can effortlessly scale your storage needs up or down with just a few clicks of your mouse. Easy scalability ensures you only pay for the exact amount of storage you need.

Remote work friendly

The cloud is perfectly tailored to the needs of the ever-growing remote workforce. Cloud sharing files means that workers can access files from anywhere and can collaborate with colleagues in real-time. They can easily access or restore previous versions of a document, see who made which changes, and view who’s currently working on the file.

Client portals

A client portal is a digital gateway that allows you to quickly and securely share files. They’re most often used for external file sharing with a company’s clients, though they’re also great for internal file sharing and project collaboration. 

File sharing with multiple companies

Client portals have gained popularity because they allow you to share files among many different clients. While you can do this with traditional cloud storage, the user experience isn’t as supportive of regularly sharing files with many audiences. 

Clients can use their portals from anywhere with an internet connection. This is ideal when you’re working with multiple clients from all over the globe. All users need is internet access to log into their dedicated digital space where they can share files, send messages, or work on documents.

Project management tools

Client portals can double as project management and collaboration tools. Features such as tasks, messaging, and Microsoft online integration can be added to your portal to encourage convenient collaborations between you and your clients or colleagues. 

You can also see who is in the workspace and what files they’ve viewed or edited. This keeps everyone on the same page about who is working on a project at any given time and prevents accidental duplication of work.

It’s a convenient way to consolidate your file sharing and project management needs into one easy-to-use workspace.

Long-term file-sharing needs 

Unlike virtual data rooms, which we’ll cover next, client portals are designed to be a long-term file sharing solution. The collaborative features, user transparency, and customizable design create a digital work environment that’s simple to navigate yet powerful enough to manage complex projects and multiple users.

Virtual data rooms

Virtual data rooms, or VDRs, are cloud-based databases that are extremely secure and offer a more controlled file sharing environment than traditional cloud storage or client portals. They’re perfect for facilitating sensitive operations such as mergers and acquisitions, series funding, or legal proceedings. 

Highest level of security

VDRs have layered security protecting your data at every level, from the document to the user to the virtual room itself. Security details will vary by provider, but all VDRs are created to provide the utmost security to your company’s most critical files.

Virtual data rooms also give administrators granular control over user access. Collaborators all stay anonymous, and they only see the information you want them to see. There are fail-safes to reduce the possibility of human error, so no one accidentally shares sensitive files with the wrong user.

Monitoring and digital rights management

Because VDRs were created to enable corporate financial deals involving sensitive data, administrators have many monitoring options and full control over digital rights management. You can review which devices are currently accessing the VDR and immediately revoke access to your confidential information if needed.

A VDR also provides audit trails, session timeouts, and secure authentication. It allows you to control what users can view, print, or download, and you can add watermarks to any printed documents to help protect your company’s intellectual property. 

User-friendly branded workspace

VDRs have a user-friendly interface that makes sharing important information simple. They’re easy to navigate, so people can quickly access and share data without needing intensive training. 

Another benefit of a virtual data room is customizable branding. You can create a custom domain and easily add your company’s colors and logo. A branded workspace gives collaborators a seamless user experience when logging in to the VDR from your site. 

Network Attached Storage (NAS) Device

If you’re not convinced that cloud sharing options are right for your business, you can opt for a network attached storage (NAS) device. Think of a NAS device as a mini local server. It’s a small piece of hardware (about the size of a toaster) with high storage capacity that connects to your local area network. 

No third-party access

Despite extensive security measures, not everyone is comfortable with cloud storage provided by a hosting service. Since NAS doesn’t store your data in the cloud, you don’t have to be concerned about any third-party data breaches or downtime. 

Small size with large storage capacity

NAS devices may be small, but they have serious data storage capacity. Since they’re much smaller than servers, which can take up a whole closet or room in your building, it’s easy to store them almost anywhere. 

Easy to scale

Scaling up your NAS is as easy as adding another hard drive to an open bay in the device. It’s a simple process that requires a screwdriver, a handful of minutes, and very little technical know-how. Whether your company has just a few terabytes of data or a few hundred terabytes, NAS can be scaled to fit your storage needs.

Sign up for Onehub’s free trial to find out if cloud storage is the right file-sharing solution for your business.

5 Cloud Collaboration Technologies that are Driving Productivity

With so many employees now working remotely, the cloud has played a key part in ensuring that businesses are able to adapt to the ‘new normal’ of working from home. 

From incorporating Cloud PBX systems to facilitate call handling and providing call centre training online to using cloud enabled video conferencing to host meetings, cloud technologies have become critical to driving productivity. No surprise then that the majority of organizations plan to use cloud services for over half their infrastructure and apps, going forward. 

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That collaboration is key to productivity has been illustrated in recent surveys. It’s been shown to be the backbone of high performing companies. And cloud technologies needn’t cost the earth, with a big variety of paid and free tools available for sharing and communication. 

Here are some cloud collaboration technologies that guarantee to improve your productivity:

1. Project Management Software

There are plenty of cloud-based project management tools available that allow teams to organize projects and work on them with colleagues. Some tools enable teams to work with whiteboards or lists, so that projects can be divided into different tasks. There’s also often the option to set up to do lists and delegate and assign team members to complete certain pieces of work.

A good project management system should also give the option to comment and give feedback to others – in real time. And it’s recommended to use project management software that integrates with all your third party systems. 

Since your project management software will play an integral role in ensuring teams can work remotely, it also pays to opt for a tool with an intuitive interface so it’s easy for users to set up and use the software. This can help with onboarding if you find yourself in need of hiring remotely.  

Cloud based project management software can also be used for cloud storage – combining all the features of a management system with a secure place to save all project management information. There’s usually the option to organize data into folders and keep them in a centralized place where users can access them at any time. That’s as long as they have the right permissions and a good internet connection. 

A cloud based project management software can also help your business share files more securely than through e-mail, something essential when working with sensitive information.

Many project management tools can be used on a basic level for free. However, it may be advisable to upgrade to a premium service in order to unlock additional features. These commonly including the ability to add more users or use more in-depth organizational management features.

2.  Messaging Apps

Emails aren’t suited for quick, back and forth conversations between employees. They require titles and lengthy paragraphs – and it can be confusing trying to keep up with endless threads in a packed inbox. 

Team messaging apps simplify business communications. 

A reliable, high quality messaging service can play a critical role when it comes to effective collaboration. You can use some apps for messaging as well as for voice and video conferencing – and screen and file sharing. It will pay to opt for a tool that’s user friendly and accessible across all your platforms and devices, in order to boost internal and external communications. 

The benefits of messaging apps include:

  • Real-time communication
  • Bite-sized communication capabilities, saving time setting up and participating in long phone conferences
  • Task management features
  • Greater engagement – teams can share personal information as well as dry business messages 

Select one with end-to-end encryption to ensure optimum security. 

3. Collaborative Email Management Tools

While messaging apps are great for internal communication, many customers see emails as a primary method of communicating with a business. 

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So when it comes to a customer service strategy, email remains one of the main drivers of customer retention and acquisition. Finding a way to prioritize messages and organize workflows helps customer service teams to cut down on the time required to reply to customer emails. It also helps teams to collaborate and organize workflows. 

Features of an email management system include the ability to create workgroups,assign to-dos, and integrate with a CRM in order to label emails and add internal notes.

As part of an effective email marketing strategy, it’s also essential to improve email deliverability – so that your emails don’t end up in spam. 

4. A VoIP Phone Service

An internet based phone service has become an essential part of a company’s collaborative efforts. Enabling staff to communicate from wherever they are in the world and stay connected with each other on any device can help them anticipate problems before they escalate. 

Employees can keep in touch with customers while they’re away from their desks – while teams can work together to find creative solutions without any barriers to collaboration. Call forwarding services come as standard with many VoIP packages, ensuring companies never miss an opportunity to connect with customers. 

Calls between employees are usually free. There’s also no need to buy in different software or hardware because you can use your existing equipment to set up meetings – with or without video. And to aid customer engagement and give them a better service there’s always the option to offer freephone numbers to them, too. 

5. Social Media Planning Platforms 

Social media planning platforms enable you to boost collaboration around your content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms. This collaboration allows you to reach customers, clients, and readers with unified brand offerings.

You can also take advantage of analytics tools to help you understand which of your posts are working and which are not. 

Tools including Hootsuite are built around teamwork so that reports are customizable and ensure that everyone can see the data they need to focus on. They are also designed to integrate with many third party platforms so that all team members can work productively and efficiently together, and create a seamless saas seo marketing strategy or whatever else your team needs to work on. 

Bio: Sam O’Brien is the Director of Digital and Growth for EMEA at RingCentral, a Global VoIP Service, video conferencing and call centre software provider. Sam has a passion for innovation and loves exploring ways to collaborate more with dispersed teams. He has written for websites such as SAP and Revenue River. Here is his LinkedIn.

How the Cloud Ensures Business Continuity

Transferring operations to the cloud has ensured it’s been ‘business as usual’ for many companies during the recent crisis. Being cloud-enabled has allowed firms to continue to collaborate across different geographical parameters and time zones. 

In particular, the cloud has become the ‘go to’ solution for businesses who have had to concentrate on effective virtual team building to keep employees connected whilst working from home.

What is cloud computing?

Cloud computing describes the process of storing and retrieving programs and data via the internet rather than via a hard drive. The cloud offers a host of advantages – from reduced spend on IT and speedy installation, to flexible pricing and increased scalability. 

Cloud based software has had a measurable impact on business productivity both for large manufacturers and small businesses. 

Impact on business from cloud computing

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How does the cloud improve business continuity?

Business continuity means making sure that an organization can continue to operate and make money throughout downturns or negative events. For this to happen it’s essential that remote teams can fully function and access applications from wherever they are. There are several ways the cloud acts to improve business continuity – we’ve outlined some here. 

1 Improved collaboration

The cloud allows team members to share and edit files outside of the company firewall, across any number of devices. By providing teams with the right tools, members can communicate, collaborate, and work together cost-effectively. 

The ability to meet virtually and share information in real-time means companies can reduce their time-to-market, improve product development, and continue to create better customer engagement strategies

2 Instant software upgrades

In a cloud-based environment, organizations can run the latest versions of their software, immediately as they are released. These upgrades put new features into employee’s hands so they can become more productive. 

For example, if a company can see immediate upgrades to their applicant tracking software, this will instantly put them in a more competitive position when it comes to hiring new staff. 

Unlike with cloud based apps, existing hardware upgrades tend to be few and far between. In the cloud, upgrades are released far more frequently and take less time to roll out. 

3 Always-on availability

The majority of cloud providers offer a very reliable service – many maintaining 99.99% uptime. Since the connection is always on (as long as there’s a reliable internet connection), employees can get to the apps they need from anywhere, and even work with them offline in some situations. 

4 Flexibility 

Cloud computing costs are flexible according to how much capacity is required. When more capacity is required, companies only need to commission it for those times. When less capacity is required, such as at low peak times, capacity can be decreased. 

5 Mobility

Employees can access data and applications no matter where they are, and they can take their work with them on smartphones and tablets in their homes or whilst working out in the field. By enabling employees to work more flexibly, companies also get a welcome boost to productivity. The ability to collaborate in real time also means team members can share insights like remote learning best practices in real time. 

6 Lower costs

With no requirement to invest in equipment or build out a data center, businesses don’t have to spend excessively on hardware, facilities, or any other aspects of operations. During recessions (like the one we’re experiencing right now), cloud computing offers a flexible cost structure thereby limiting business exposure and enabling companies to continue to operate profitably. 

Companies utilizing cloud solutions saw reduced costs.

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7 Ability to add and withdraw capacity quickly

If extra capacity is needed quickly – e.g. when you’ve taken steps to promote your website and see a spike in traffic – capacity can be added swiftly so that servers don’t crash and the company doesn’t lose sales. When the promotion has finished, capacity can be quickly reduced to keep costs down. 

8 Facilitate M&A activity

The cloud accommodates faster changes so that merging two companies is much more efficient. With traditional computing, changes might take years to complete in terms of migrating operations and decommissioning data centers. Now, companies can be up and running on the same IT stack in next to no time. 

9 Reduction in environmental impact

Having to build fewer data centers and keeping operations more efficient means less impact on the environment. Companies who adopt cloud computing are improving their carbon footprint and boosting their green credentials. 

10 Easy to backup and restore

According to recent reports, 73% of organizations fall victim to natural or man-made disasters. From malicious hacking to malware, these occurrences severely impact business operations. 

In the event of a disaster it’s far easier to recover and restore operations in the cloud than with traditional computing. Business continuity no longer has to rely on backup options that involve tapes, disks, or flash drives – all of which have a high probability of data corruption. 

Cloud computing enables backup in real time or at scheduled intervals – so making the old school night-time backups obsolete. And these backups can be automated with servers configured accordingly. 

The introduction of cloud-based SD-WAN has minimized networking disruption even further for inbound and outbound call center software, ensuring that it performs more effectively. 

11 Security 

When it comes to data security, the data that’s stored in the cloud is nearly always kept in an encrypted form. Hackers find it difficult to access the data because files look like gibberish rather than meaningful information. 

Even before the pandemic, companies were seeing the benefits of adopting cloud computing. The remote working shift has now brought into sharper focus the need to find an effective way to ensure business continuity and keep project collaboration on track.

Given the unpredictability of world events, being enabled in the cloud is becoming ever more critical. Because of the cloud, businesses are finding they no longer need to shut down operations – or take a hit on profits – because they can adapt to shifts in working practices. 

Cloud enabled companies have the flexibility to continue to give employees access to shared information, so they can continue to work at full capacity. 

Bio: John Allen, Director, Global SEO at RingCentral, a global UCaaS, VoIP and auto dialler software provider. He has over 14 years of experience and an extensive background in building and optimizing digital marketing programs. He has written for websites such as E-Spirit and Pandadoc.