Americans are flocking to the cloud in every area of personal and enterprise data storage.
Social media has driven many people to store their data using cloud applications, and mobility is on the rise increasing accessibility.
Businesses have been more hesitant to adopt cloud storage.
Due to legal precedence and hacking threats, many organizations fear losing control of their data.
As cloud vendors develop security features and administrative controls, these fears may be outdated. Forbes predicts that 90% of the growth in the IT industry will come from cloud-based solutions by 2018.
Better Buys conducted a survey to discover how cloud storage has impacted Americans’ work and personal lives. We asked about which vendors they use, what types of information they store and a little about their jobs.
Our key findings show:
- 40% of employed cloud storage users either often or exclusively access storage from a mobile device
- 39% of employed cloud storage users within small business primarily use Google Drive
- 44.8% of employed cloud storage users aren’t offered work-approved accounts
Cloud Storage Popularity
Cloud storage has never been more popular than it is right now.
Of employed respondents, we found that over half do not use cloud storage. However, of those that do not use cloud storage, 8% don’t know what the cloud is. There’s a degree of uncertainty when it comes to cloud storage.
For the rest of the survey we followed up with the 41% of respondents who answered that they are employed and use cloud storage.
Personal vs. Work
Of the employed respondents who reported using cloud storage, we investigated their habits when handling personal and work data:
This means 68% of our surveyed employed cloud storage users use cloud storage for work tasks. About one-third only use cloud storage for personal use, and not at all for work.
We followed up with those two-thirds of respondents who use cloud storage for work and asked how they manage accounts. We found that although the majority of cloud users access storage for work, 44.8% of those aren’t offered work-approved cloud storage accounts. They aren’t given the option to store work-data with a work-provided solution.
We found that of the employees who are offered and do use work-approved cloud storage, 33% admitted to storing personal information on those accounts. This means that cloud storage offered by the workplace may contain personal employee information.
Another 39% of users admitted to using a personal account to store work data. To the opposite effect, employees have saved company data within their own accounts.
When it comes to using cloud storage, many employees turn toward the tools they recognize. Allowing employees to take control of company data this way should raise concerns, especially if they are accessing data through a mobile device.
Mobile vs. Desktop
Mobile accessibility continues to gain popularity in the workplace. When asking about the frequency of mobile access, we found:
Over one-third of employed cloud storage users rely predominantly on their desktop and rarely or never access a mobile device for cloud storage.
The 64% majority of users at least sometimes access a mobile device for cloud storage. Those who access it exclusively are only 6% of respondents.
When it comes to cloud storage via mobile, a wide range of media can be kept safe. For work this may be documents, but for personal this could be music. Other media could be presentations, videos, pictures, and more depending on the applications available on the device.
The desire to access information on the go might not be necessary for all types of media, but vendors are developing solutions for the highest level of accessibility.
Small Business vs. Enterprise
We also asked employed cloud users about their company’s size and the solutions they use for work:
For small companies with up to 250 employees, Google Drive is the most popular cloud storage tool. Dropbox is the second most popular followed by the third most popular, Microsoft’s OneDrive.
For large organizations over 1,000 employees, Dropbox is the most used cloud storage tool, closely followed by Google Drive. OneDrive is also the third most popular, but another surprising 12% answered Box. The cloud storage solution, Box, is significantly more popular for large organizations than small.
While Microsoft is a long-time leading enterprise solution vendor, the product OneDrive isn’t as popular as other Office and Windows tools.
Google Drive and Dropbox are two highly recognized cloud storage vendors due to their origins with private storage and file sharing. Both vendors have also recently updated their enterprise storage plans to attract new business customers.
Some compelling findings from our survey pertained to the most popular cloud storage vendors and how respondents managed personal and work accounts.
Recent cloud storage advancements have taken steps to increase data security due to how work and personal data is stored.
As more companies consider subscribing to cloud services, vendors such as Google and Dropbox have stepped up with more administrative tools for managing company data. Older long-standing solutions such as M-Files and docSTAR are also making unique enhancements to keep up with rising demands for Document Management Software (DMS).
The Impact of Encryption
American-based vendors continue to battle privacy issues by promoting security methods such as encryption. Many cloud solutions offer a suite of administrative tools for tracking account activity, allowing single sign-on, two-step user authentication and even mobile device wipe.
Cloud solutions tend to encrypt files as they’re in transit from a device into the cloud. An extra security measure is to encrypt files while they’re at rest on a device rather than as they’re in transit.
Encryption continues to be a hot topic for US politics as well. Government security experts insist cloud vendors should provide “backdoor keys” to allow access at any time. Cloud vendors such as Dropbox have resisted due to a controversial history of losing client trust.
The Impact of Mobile Devices
Mobile device usage raises additional security concerns with 64% of employed cloud users regularly accessing company data via mobile.
The security of a mobile device and a standard desktop computer are very different. Installing and running applications on a mobile device often happens without careful consideration.
When a user downloads an application on a mobile device, these apps often gather data for marketing purposes and may be collecting more than the user realizes. For example, earlier this year many Android flashlight apps were exposed for containing malware that unknowingly installs malicious apps. Anyone could accidentally compromise a device’s security this way. Similar threats are referred to as “dead apps” — Applications that were flagged and removed from the app store, but were not removed from the user’s device.
For mobile devices with work data, it’s entirely possible to give attackers full control over the device without ever noticing.
However, there is also backlash from employees who feel companies are too controlling when it comes to mobile regulations.
In one case this past May, an employee sued her employer after she was fired for disabling a mobile application. The phone was issued to her through work and tracked her location 24 hours a day, including the speed of her car every where she went. Her complaints described the device as a “prisoner’s ankle bracelet” that went to unreasonable lengths to monitor her outside of work. While the app did have a clock-in/clock-out function, like many time & attendance solutions, the GPS feature did not stop after clocking out.
Businesses will continue occupying similar storage spaces as people with private data, calling for the appropriate protection of all data. Cloud vendors have taken strides to provide secure solutions, but companies now must approach those solutions with new protocol.
Widespread company data policies and careful adoption of mobility are important considerations.
Cloud technology will only increase in popularity, pushing businesses to take data security seriously.
Through Google Consumer Surveys, Better Buys reached 854 respondents who were then filtered through two qualifying questions. The remaining population was presented with eight questions pertaining to the tools used and nature of the tasks completed through cloud storage.
Results are representative of the survey sample. Insights are derived by the individual author. For more information, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.