Cloud Storage

In this episode, I talk about cloud storage. What cloud storage is, what the benefits are, and what features to look for. There are lots of options and you may already have some storage available to you that you weren’t aware of.
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With “NordLocker”, you secure and sync your files via an end-to-end encrypted cloud. Access them locally, on the cloud, or even on a public computer! Your files are never exposed.  To try a 3GB NordLocker for free, visit this affiliate link.

This episode of the Digital Workplace Podcast is sponsored by Virtco Consulting.



Welcome to the Digital Workplace Podcast. Here to help you work smarter and get more done! Unbelievably, he cycled around Lake Como in Northern Italy in a single day. In 37-degree heat! Here is your host, our resident digital workplace expert, Grant Crawley.

Grant Crawley:

Thanks Beatrix!

In this episode I’m going to talk about cloud storage. What cloud storage is, what the benefits are, and what features to look for. There are lots of options and you may already have some storage available to you that you weren’t aware of.


When working remotely, we recommend you always use a Virtual Private Network. A VPN secures your data, protects you when using public wifi and enables you to mask your location. Our VPN service of choice is Nord VPN. To try it today click on our affiliate link in the show notes.

This episode of the Digital Workplace Podcast is sponsored by Virtco Consulting.

Their proven digital accelerators help to contain costs and limit disruption, reducing risk and ensuring return on investment is optimised.

Visit, today!

Grant Crawley:

Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint, Adobe’s Creative Cloud, NordLocker, Autodesk Drive… and even roll-your-own open source variants you can install. The choice is seemingly endless.

So what is cloud storage?

Put simply cloud storage is a hard disk you can access from anywhere you have an Internet connection.

Most of the cloud storage tools have a desktop integration client that you install on your computer and it then manages and synchronises the files you keep locally. Some merely mirror what’s on your computer and synchronise it with the cloud, and others allow you to keep the files off your local computer, with options to keep a local copy if needed and then provide on-demand access to your cloud-stored files.

Recently there has been a bit of an explosion of cloud storage services, and many of them are being recommended by a wide range of bloggers. I’m a bit dubious about some of those services, they’re not from companies I know or trust and a thought keeps sneaking into my suspicious brain that they’re getting either a kick-back for recommending or the affiliate commission is higher for those services.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do have an affiliate relationship with Nord group. They’re a very well-known, long-established and trusted supplier of online security services. I’m also a Microsoft Partner.

So what exactly are the benefits of a cloud storage solution? Well, firstly, you can access it from anywhere and on any device. So if you upload a file on your phone, when you get back to your office, you can just open it on your piece.

The other great benefit of the cloud storage solutions is the ability to collaborate with colleagues, either inside or outside of your organization, depending on how you configure your sharing options with one drive and SharePoint, you can federate to external organizations and have a completely shared working space between both organizations.

That way you can open files. See who’s got access to those files, share them with other users within that organization and collaborate on all manner of documents. Whether they be documents or spreadsheets or presentations, you can do the same kind of things with Google drive as well. All of you can collaborate and edit the same documents at the same time.

When making decisions about cloud storage, you need to bear in mind that while they all seem to be essentially the same on the surface there may be nuances in how they’re tuned to perform. For example, Autodesk Drive is optimised for CAD drawings, it understands CAD file structures and that enables you to use appropriate tools to collaborate with your colleagues. However, if you were to try and use the same tool with another cloud storage service the results could be disastrous and result in damaged work.

Then there is what’s bundled with the storage solution, so with OneDrive for Business – essentially a component of Microsoft 365 you have the full Microsoft Office suite, and the apps and files are optimised for OneDrive. Conversely, if you look at Google Drive, it’s optimised for Google Workspace apps.

So it isn’t necessarily a single platform choice. You may need a mix of solutions to meet your requirements.

Many of the platforms also provide API access, so you can integrate them with other tools like Zapier, IFTTT, Power Automate, Slack or devices such as a Synology NAS device.

There are a few things you do need to look for though, firstly you want to be sure your files are encrypted when at rest and that nobody can access them without your authorisation. Then you need to know that they are strongly encrypted when in transit from their stored location to your device. What about access controls, well this has been a bone of contention for a few of the cloud storage services for a  while, but you should examine whether they have 2FA and provide strong authentication mechanisms for API access. If they don’t, then run a mile in the opposite direction.

Another area of security you should pay close attention to is data loss prevention. Some services have advanced data loss prevention policies which can optionally use sensitivity labels or even detect sensitive data types and allow you to control how those files are shared of if they can be shared. OneDrive for Business and SharePoint are particularly strong in this respect, although the notifications can get somewhat annoying if it’s been configured badly.

For ultimate security of your data, you should look for full end-to-end encryption. NordLocker provides this, and that means you have total control of the security of your data. Even the service provider never sees an unencrypted copy of your data. I wrote a paper about doing this nearly 15 years ago, but at the time I was busy with other projects and so took it no further. The NordLocker service is almost exactly what I was advocating, so that’s certainly a tool I would recommend for long-term storage of your most sensitive data.

Another topic you should consider when deciding on cloud storage is whether you can or want to make your own backup of what’s stored in the cloud. All the service providers perform regular backups, but when you have a problem you don’t want to have to wait whatever their SLA is to retrieve that corrupted or deleted file from a backup that was months ago. Fortunately there are solutions out there that will backup your cloud storage to a local storage solution. One of my favourites is Synolgy’s CloudStation tool, it uses the cloud providers API to connect and then backup everything you put into the cloud. At first glance, it seems like a bit of a backward step, but it’s not. If your cloud storage was compromised somehow, by some future unknown threat, you have a local backup you can restore from, but you haven’t sacrificed the convenience and power of the cloud storage solution. Plus the NAS solution is simple, inexpensive and will run from any Internet connection.

That nicely leads me into next week’s episode on infrastructure redesign where I’ll be talking about how to flatten and simplify your IT infrastructure to make it more digital workplace friendly, cheaper to operate and higher performance for your colleagues.

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