Top five personal cloud storage and file-sharing services and what they mean for IT

Personal cloud storage and file-sharing services are catching on among consumers and business users alike, but some are more enterprise-ready than others.

Employees who use personal cloud storage services for work can make IT’s job difficult. Fortunately, there are

some more secure file-sharing services that can work in the corporate world.

Personal cloud storage users like that they can easily share files with one another and access them from anywhere, and they’re going to do it with or without IT’s blessing. It’s important that IT maintain control over what happens to corporate data while still giving employees the easy-to-use file-sharing experience they expect. Take a look at these popular personal cloud storage and file-sharing services to decide how they can -- or can’t -- fit in your organization.

Dropbox

One of the most popular file-sharing services is Dropbox. Users like it because it’s free and simple. It creates desktop folders where a user can store files and documents, then syncs those contents to the user’s smartphone, tablet or other computers. There’s no way for IT to secure company data users store in the cloud via their personal Dropbox accounts, but if  you're looking for a corporate file sharing alternative, Dropbox for Teams is a good option. This paid enterprise service allows corporate admins to set up file-sharing services where IT has control over teams of users who can access certain files. This approach creates a more secure environment for business file sharing.

Box

Another service developed with the enterprise in mind is Box. Cloud storage and collaboration services from Box include Box for Personal use, Box for Business and Box for Enterprise IT. These professional file-sharing services are good options for IT because they allow IT to manage data access using project groups. With project groups, users and administrators can create groups to share specific documents with specific users, which helps keep data secure. Box also offers file encryption, which minimizes the chances of a document’s security being compromised. There are Box apps for Apple and Android devices.

Microsoft SkyDrive

Microsoft SkyDrive is a free cloud service that offers users 25GB of storage. SkyDrive is great for users because all they need to do is log in with their Windows Live accounts, and from there they can invite anyone they want to share data. This approach makes it hard for IT to control SkyDrive. If IT pros want a more secure Microsoft offering that still gets the file-sharing job done, they should consider SharePoint. With SharePoint, users still have an easy way to share documents with others, and IT benefits from better corporate integration.

Amazon Cloud Drive

Amazon Cloud Drive offers 5 GB of storage for free (and more for an annual fee). This personal cloud storage service is geared towards end users who buy music from the Amazon MP3 service, but it’s open to other types of data as well. There is no way for IT to securely integrate Amazon Cloud Drive into a corporate environment, so the safest bet is to block this service.

Apple iCloud

More on personal cloud storage and file-sharing services

Enterprise cloud file-sharing apps give IT more control over data

Microsoft SkyDrive changes target Dropbox, Google

IT can’t ignore Apple iCloud. This personal cloud storage service, which debuted in iOS 5 and will also have an expanded presence in Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, backs up media and documents that users download and create, which is great for personal use. Despite some enterprise IT fears about iCloud, there might be a silver lining: iTunes is the portal through which files get to iCloud, and since iTunes has to run on a computer, a system administrator can use system policies to restrict users’ access.

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This was first published in February 2012

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