Lack of offsite storage of critical business data is one of the biggest failings of small businesses. I know a photographer, graphic designer and video producer whose studio, with its complement of Mac and PC computer gear, was wiped out in a fire. He has insurance to replace the gear, but much of the data was lost. He isn’t sure he can restart a business he spent years building.

While details are scarce, Google is apparently planning to offer online storage along with their very successful gmail service.

I think this could be wonderful for small businesses for two reasons:

  • Low cost, probably free. I don’t know exactly how Google plans to make it pay, but with raw storage prices dropping to $0.50 per gigabyte later this year, it doesn’t take much of a cash flow to support it. So free is very good for small business.
  • World-class support. Google has learned how to build and manage very large infrastructures that are highly resilient and available. This means that the Gdrive should also be highly available, certainly better than the PC in the office.

Yet there are two concerns as well.

  • Privacy – do you really want your business critical data residing on Google’s storage? Yet it is a simple matter to encrypt data using freeware PGP and then upload it.
  • Upload bandwidth. It is easy to overlook the fact that cable and DSL upload speeds are often far slower than download speeds. At a 40KB/sec upload speed you could only put about 1.5 GB out overnight.

Yet any business should find this service useful if you figure out what is truly critical and make it easy to encrypt and upload the information. And perhaps our bandwidth suppliers will realize they have a business opportunity providing faster upload speeds.

Let’s hope Google gets this up and running RSN (real soon now).