File synchronization services like Dropbox, SugarSync, and CX have proven themselves to be valuable business tools. When employees can easily and automatically sync their home computer and devices with the computers they use at work, both productivity and efficiency increase. Work can happen from anywhere, at any time, because your employee's most important files travel with them.
In the past, this kind of up-to-date synchronization was only possible using email attachments or flash drives. Now that it is automatic and fully digital, it just makes sense to your employees who are looking for ways to increase their productivity and make their lives easier. However, it is crucial that you implement these services in a systematic way. When you allow your employees to use Dropbox and other file syncing services at their own discretion, you're opening your company up to some of the risks of cloud IT solutions, and it can create more security hazards than benefits.
To implement file syncing for your employees while maintaining the security of your business data, take the following steps:
Standardize on a Single Service Provider
There are literally dozens of file syncing services available, all of which have different features and service offerings. It is important that all of your employees use the same service rather than relying on the cloud platform they use for personal files. You can only address the security and efficiency concerns inherent in file syncing if everyone in your company uses the same service.
Purchase Business Level Accounts
Many file syncing platforms offer different services for personal and business use. If you plan to use file syncing in a professional capacity, it is crucial that you sign up for a business level account. Not only do you get more storage space, there are also features built in that make it easy to manage multiple user accounts and establish settings. There is often a charge associated with these accounts, but you are paying for both safety and simplicity.
Implement Security Policies and Best Practices
File syncing is risky for the same reasons that it is beneficial. When your employees can take data from work home with them, there is no guarantee that it will stay safe on their personal computers. When this data includes customer information, financial records, or proprietary documents, you open your small business up to serious security threats. The best way to avoid these is to implement company-wide policies for file syncing and educate your employees on the best ways of using the service. You probably have other IT policies in place, and this needs to be added to the list.
Put Up a Firewall
Even if you forbid your employees from using Dropbox or other personal file syncing services, they will probably be tempted, especially if they already have accounts in place. These services are so easy to use that it is hard not to fall back on them. You can easily eliminate this problem if you simply change your firewall to block all file syncing services except the one you use company-wide. Rather than simply discouraging your employees from using other services, you should make it impossible.
Successful small businesses make use of file syncing services cautiously. There are lots of benefits to be gained, but only if you address the risks as well. Your IT partner can help you select the right file syncing service, develop policies for employees, and make tweaks to your IT infrastructure so that everything runs safely and smoothly. To learn more about collaborating with IT experts to get more out of your essential technologies, read our white paper “The Ultimate Small Business Guide to IT Outsourcing.”