Although useful for many industries it’s important to understand why accountants need cloud storage more than most. Obviously, we are not talking about big puffy white clouds in the sky, we are talking about The Cloud. In one of our recent articles Cybersecurity Tips for Accountants, we mentioned how important backing up your data can be. Cloud storage is just one of many redundancies you should be using as a tax professional.
Some examples of cloud backup services include LIvedrive, Google Drive, Apple iCloud, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive. (There are also many, many lesser-known companies for cloud backup, but for the purpose of this post, I’ll limit the discussion to these.)
Let’s take a look at the cloud. What are the options available to safely store documents? Here are some considerations on how to go about implementing a cloud storage solution for your accounting firm.
Is The Cloud Safe?
Safety is a big concern and one reason why accountants need cloud storage to back up their documents. Safe documents mean that they must be secure from being accessed and safe from being opened. Before The Cloud, access was a physical thing. We stored our files on our computer’s removable discs and hard drives. To gain access, you had to go physically to the device. The internet changes all that. Now we can access our files remotely. This is a gift but also a curse. Without taking the proper precautions it can result in important customer files floating out there for any hacker to steal. However, encryption in The Cloud protects your documents from being opened by anyone who does not have the password.
Encryption is “the ability to store and transmit information in a form that is unreadable to anyone other than intended persons.” Encryption has been around for thousands of years. The first form of cryptography was in Egypt, dated 1900 BCE.
The level of encryption today is top of the line in The Cloud and through Cloud-like services such as Dropbox and Google Drive. Since we live in a mobile world, technology is moving from storing data on portable hard drives, CDs, DVDs, and flash drives to The Cloud. Sooner or later, you will not be able to back up your documents on much of anything else, so migration to The Cloud is more of when you will do it, as a matter of if you will do it.
More Secure Than External Drives
It is very unlikely for your files to be taken from the cloud. The other side of the coin is that anyone can steal a CD or USB drive. The options all have risks of being stolen. All of the primary online storage services pretty much use the same bank-grade security to protect the transmission of data. Despite how safe The Cloud is, you still have to protect your documents. You will have to password protect your most important documents with very secure, safe passwords to keep those files secure.
Physical Backups Can Be Physically Destroyed
CDs and DVDs that we stored our data on were supposed to last for a lifetime, or in their terms, “100 years”. The problem is most of us don’t store our discs under ideal conditions. People are now discovering the data they stored on CDs and DVDs can no longer be retrieved. We may be holding onto this important customer data for decades. However moisture or other hazards can destroy our original copies of data. On The Cloud, we never, ever, have to worry about the document dissolving because of a storm or other situations out of our control.
To replace CDs and DVDs, many people resorted to the USB drive. The problem is, the lifespan of a flash drive is 15-20 years, but if you use the thumb drive over and over again, it will wear out faster, defeats the purpose of backing up data, since you likely want to revisit the data often. This makes it an even more obvious reason why accountants need cloud storage is because it’s the optimal storage location for customer information.
Migrating to The Cloud
Convinced The Cloud is the right option for you? You’re in luck. There are a plethora of options to start migrating to The Cloud such as Dropbox, Apple iCloud, Google Drive, OneDrive from Microsoft DropBox, and many more. Price is always something to consider. It’s also important to consider which features you require and what amount of storage you’ll actually use. There’s isn’t a point of having unlimited storage you’re going to pay three times the amount for a smaller package and still not reach the cap.
Most of these applications have a free option with limited space. Cloud services offer an upgrade to a monthly or annual subscription fee for additional storage. The more space you need, the higher the cost, but the prices are typically reasonable. As with everything, there is a con, that instead of paying a one-time fee of a USB drive or a CD, you’ll be paying for storage forever. However, as mentioned damage to that single backup is possible. Also, it’s harder for you to work from multiple computers or working with peers. Everyone would need to pass around that same USB drive and that’s just not practical.
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We at Rush Tech Support suggest that you consider incorporating a cloud storage solution as an accountant. Make sure you’re taking a proactive approach to protect your customer’s information. Want to get started migrating your firm’s information to a more secure platform? Call us at Rush Tech Support today at 844-880-7874!