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A switch from traditional on-premises private data storage to cloud services is a big decision that many small business and large enterprises are making today. Before you change everything over to a public cloud solution, you need to make sure you ask the right questions and avoid making common mistakes.

Security
Cloud computing companies can make your employees  lives easier because data is easily accessible from any computer anywhere in the world, but you want to make sure that data is secure. It s easy to assume that all cloud providers use the latest technology and safeguards to keep your data away from prying eyes, but not all cloud computing services are created equally. Be sure to ask whether the service you choose uses data encryption during access, transfers and while the data simply sits on their servers.

Make sure backup and disaster recovery services are a part of your plan so you don t have nasty surprises in the future. And you should ensure that the right people have the right access, such as certain permissions that are granted only to administrators rather than every user that can access data and apps.

Availability
One of the biggest benefits of cloud computing is that your data can rest on servers located anywhere in the world. This also means that your company may do business in a different time zone than the cloud provider you choose to do business with. You want to choose a cloud service that is flexible in its upgrades to your data and applications so you don t have downtime during a vital time that your employees or clients need to access that data and applications.

Flexibility
There s always the possibility that you could move your company s data from one cloud data storage company to another. It s important that you choose a cloud service that supports industry-standard languages and operating systems so you can easily transfer your data to another service without hiccups.

Location
Where your data is stored is important for more reasons than just scheduled or unplanned downtime. If your local laws prohibit you from storing proprietary information in countries that have the right to snoop your data, you need to follow those laws. Security is different in each country, so do your research.

Ownership
Every cloud computing company has a different service agreement, so be sure to go through it thoroughly to ensure you know what you re agreeing to. Although a cloud service may have good intentions, you likely don t want to sign over the ownership of your data to the service.

Cost
You shouldn t assume there s a one-size-fits-all cloud data storage solution. Look into the different plans offered by each company you consider to avoid paying too much for security and services your company doesn t need. Also, don t focus on opting for the lowest-priced plan because it may not include enough of what you need. Your bottom line is important but not as important as keeping your servers up and keeping your data safe.

The best cloud provider is the one that fits your company s needs and can expand capacity as your business grows. Do your due diligence to ensure you re making the best decision for your company s data and applications.

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