Don't Let Personal Cloud Storage Become an IT Nightmare

JUNE 5TH, 2018

Dropbox burst onto the scene just over ten years ago. Millions of people flocked to the service because it offered 2GB of free storage and promised to synchronize your files across all your devices. Like many personal cloud storage companies, Dropbox aimed its products at consumers and priced them accordingly. Only after Dropbox gained traction did it try to entice business customers with increased storage, team collaboration features, along with enhanced security options. Many companies were hesitant to encourage any type of cloud storage solutions among their employees. However, many employees took it upon themselves to integrate Dropbox into their workflow, especially those who worked on desktop PCs during the day but took a laptop home or on the road. The ability of Dropbox to sync files in the background across all devices was much more natural to use than a VPN or enterprise storage solution at the time. Today, Dropbox has much competition. The personal cloud storage segment is full of companies like Box, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneCloud. Most offer both consumer and business tiers. Dropbox offered less free storage than the competition, but it was integrated into many desktop and mobile applications which helped it grow. That integration makes it difficult to give up or migrate to another service. There is a good chance your employees are using a personal cloud storage product today. Does it matter which service they use? This week, we discuss why you should take a closer look at what cloud storage services your employees are using.

The Tradeoffs of Free

Many people, who were looking for a simple and inexpensive way to back up their files, found a solution with Dropbox, Microsoft, or Google. The free tier may not have been enough to back up all their photos and videos, but a couple of GB was plenty of storage to backup documents and emails. One downside to this behavior is that documents include personal details found in their metadata. Metadata is incredibly valuable to advertisers because it enables them to target products and services directly focused on your needs. Imagine all the minute details a service like Facebook knows about you. They know where you live, where you shop, what type of movies you enjoy, and where you eat. Thankfully, none of the personal cloud storage companies are selling your metadata today. That is good news, but it does not mean they never will, especially with the free tiers. What are you giving up for any company to provide you with a free product? Facebook and Gmail are free, but you trade away a portion of your privacy to use their products. If you are currently using a free product for cloud storage, you may consider only backing up files that do not include personal (or as much) information as say, financial documents. A better choice is to skip the free tiers and upgrade to a paid tier with more storage and better security.

Where is Your Company Data?

Employees today can store their work in the cloud and access it from any device, allowing them to work from anywhere. This boon in productivity is a win for companies, but it presents some challenges for IT departments. Your company may have standardized on a cloud service with stringent security protocols. However, if that service is clumsy to use or is not supported by all the devices employees employ, they will find their own solution. Also, those solutions may not provide the level of security your company expects. It also means that keeping track of sensitive company documents can get tricky. Every company deals with document management and tracking issues, but cloud storage can complicate the challenge, especially if you are dealing with highly sensitive information. Companies doing business as a government agency or contractor must comply with data regulations such as HIPAA in the United States or DPD in the European Union. Failing to comply can mean losing contracts or ability to bid on future projects. What is the best way to deal with document crawl? Provide storage solutions that work as well or better than the consumer-focused products. StorageCraft provides granular production for both Microsoft Office 365 and G Suite that are worth considering. Educating everyone about compliance issues will help, but the solution needs to fit seamlessly into their workflow.

BYOD Considerations

Giving your employees the freedom of using their own device is not just a trend. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has the potential to be a win-win for both employers and employees as it helps the company save money while allowing the employee to be more productive on a device of their choice. However, BYOD introduces significant security issues, and those issues are complicated when you add cloud storage options to the mix. For example, how do you handle a situation where an employee loses his phone? If that phone was not properly secured, you are at risk of sensitive documents falling into the wrong hands. Some newer devices offer fingerprint or facial recognition forms of security, but not everyone uses them nor do all applications support them. Does your company’s cloud storage solution work across a myriad of devices your employee use each day? If not, you need to find a better solution.


Cloud storage is part of the business landscape today and is multiplying. It can enable collaboration, extend services and applications, and make everyone more productive. However, it comes with risk if not managed properly. It is impossible for IT departments to keep track of all the personal cloud storage options, but they can provide solutions that meet the needs of the users. IT learned a valuable lesson when they ignored smartphones until they could not any longer. Many were slow to support phones and applications that made employees more productive and collaborative. Now everyone has a phone running apps like Dropbox, OneCloud, Google Drive or one of dozen other options. Those will be the first storage options employees use unless you offer them a better solution.

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