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August 30, 2022
Should you trust your business to the cloud?
Cloud-everything has become a huge deal in the last decade. Self storage operators are bombarded with offers for cloud-based solutions to all their problems.
Are these claims worth your time? And can you really trust the “cloud” to keep sensitive documentation safe?
Rental agreements, insurance paperwork, billing history – storage operators have whole libraries of information that must be kept private and accessible. Cloud-based document storage has started to replace filing cabinets and back-room boxes. We’ll go over all you need to know about online self storage document storage here so you can make the best choices for your business!
Cloud storage doesn’t actually store your data in a “cloud” of information. Everything you save to the cloud is stored in some real location; usually on the servers of whatever cloud service you’re using.
This works very similarly to how you would save photos to your personal computer, with a handful of significant advantages.
Your cloud-stored information does live on a server (a computer dedicated to storing and accessing information quickly). It probably lives on two, or three, or a hundred, scattered about in little bits and bytes. These servers will be housed in gigantic warehouses, side-by-side with their whirring siblings.
These server farms (or data centers) provide quite a few benefits over storing your data at home. They’re managed by IT professionals, kept in climate- and humidity-controlled rooms with redundant power supplies, and they never forget to use a surge protector (probably).
Data centers also have better security protocols than you do; or at least, I’d hope so. Maybe your set-up looks like a government facility in a spy movie, I can’t be certain.
The main benefit of cloud data storage isn’t even security, though: the main benefit is accessibility.
If your data is on a specific hard drive - like the one in your office, for example - and you need to access it but you’re not in your office, that’s a pain. If your data is on a cloud server somewhere, you can access that no matter where you are, as long as you have internet.
The same holds true for all manner of self storage software. If you have a cloud-based solution, you can access the same data and functionality from home, the office, on your phone, on vacation, or from your dentist’s office (though they’ll probably charge extra for that). This is a spectacular boost for multi-facility operators, or any small business owner who wants to lead a semi-normal life. Cloud-based access lets you solve problems quickly from wherever you are, rather than having to end your day to put out otherwise-manageable fires.
The benefits of cloud-based data storage will outweigh the costs for most operators. The main exception would be for very small operations that don’t need to access important information very often. The fewer tenants you have, the fewer problems they can cause you, and the less space you need for boxes full of leases and payment information.
However, that doesn’t mean that a small facility shouldn’t go for cloud-based document storage.
Self storage operators need to keep documentation for a long time.
Depending upon the statute of limitations in your state, you may need to keep your leases, payment records, and lien documentation for five, ten, or twenty years! If you’re relying on boxes in the back room, that’s a very long time and can end up being a lot of space.
With cloud document storage, you can use that back room for something useful! And, cloud-based storage makes it much easier to find the document you need. Even if you’re fairly organized, with date ranges on the boxes and everything, sorting through hundreds of pages is much slower than finding them in software.
The best part is that these two big benefits come cheap. Cloud storage is offered for free to individuals through many services (like Google Drive) up to a certain amount. Most PMSes have cloud storage functionality built-in, so if you’re already using one of these systems, storing your information online won’t cost you anything!
Online security is a tricky subject. Self storage operators have an intimate understanding of how important security is, but with cloud-based document storage there’s no lock to put on the door.
And when you’re responsible for all of your tenant’s personal information, including credit card numbers, you can’t afford to make mistakes.
Luckily, all the high-tech security should be handled by your PMS or cloud storage software. The main thing you have to worry about is keeping your account secure. There are two main ways to ensure your account stays safe:
Learn more ways to improve your self storage facility with these: