The world generates billions of gigabytes of data every day – and it has to go somewhere. As a business, should you host your data on local servers or move to the cloud?
Here is a look at the pros and cons of hosting your data locally versus in the cloud.
Local server: Advantages
Housing your infrastructure on-site gives you physical control over your servers and keeps your critical data close. You generally have faster access to your files and backups, and there is no need for an internet connection to access your data.
Share with flair
Local file sharing offers greater security and control over your data. It is also convenient because the files your employees need are at their fingertips. Users can access the network and files regardless of internet connection, download speeds and upload time.
Back up and breathe easy
Because backup speed doesn’t depend on internet connectivity, backing up your data to an external hard drive is usually quicker than backing up to cloud storage. Once it’s backed up, you know where your data is and you can control who has access to it.
Local server: Disadvantages
Power bills can soar
Compared to the cloud, hosting data on in-house servers requires more energy and drives up your bills. You need power for the servers themselves, as well as more space and cooling.
Need for capital
An in-house server requires a sizeable initial investment in equipment and software. You will also face the costs of renewing software licences, maintaining and upgrading hardware and expanding backup storage infrastructure. If you have several servers, you will probably also need to pay for at least a part-time IT professional.
Cloud systems are infinitely scalable. You only pay for what you need, and it is usually easy to add or reduce capacity as your requirements change, without the delay caused by upgrading or replacing physical infrastructure.
Keep a lid on spending
Unlike in-house servers, cloud requires no upfront investment, and its pay-as-you-go pricing model can make it easier to manage your budgets and cash flow. Hosting your data off-site can also cut your energy and real-estate costs because you need less physical space.
Be a smooth operator
Cloud removes the cost and stress of managing in-house servers, which is a big benefit if you don’t have a dedicated IT staff member.
Hosting your data in the cloud means you can access that data from any connected device, including a desktop, laptop, smartphone or tablet. This lets employees access and share files from anywhere, which is important if your business has mobile or remote workers. Storing files in the cloud also allows multiple users to work on a single document without version-control issues.
Cloud services are generally highly secure, but some businesses are hesitant to use the cloud if they handle sensitive information such as financial data or health records. Unlike local servers, cloud services can be accessed by hackers who don’t have a physical network connection.
Requires constant connection
Cloud-server access requires a fast and reliable connection to the internet – if your internet is down, there is no way for users to access their files. Bandwidth restrictions are also a consideration, as this can result in slow access to content such as videos.
Potential hidden costs
While many cloud vendors purport to be pay-as-you-go providers, often you must commit to a contract that stipulates a minimum cost, regardless of what you use. Be sure to read the fine print on any pricing plans you consider.
When it comes to deciding between local servers and cloud services, remember there are upsides and downsides to both. Many businesses now adopt a hybrid approach where they use the cloud for certain applications while storing sensitive data on in-house servers. But every business is different, so the road you go down ultimately depends on your unique needs.