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Cheap Cloud storage, but at what cost?


Google made headlines around the world last week after slashing the costs of online file storage using their Google Drive product. For as little as $1.99 per month, users can now buy 100GB of Cloud storage for their files.

With prices like that, Google Drive is a no-brainer right? Actually, maybe not.

The Google Terms of Service

Google offers a number of useful tools and services either completely free, or at a very small cost. They pay for these loss-leading services by generating a detailed picture of their customers that can then be used to sell highly targeted advertising by marketers.

Under the general Google Terms of Service (which everyone agrees to when they sign up for a Google account), any files stored in the Google Drive or Apps services can be accessed by the company to "improve our Services, and to develop new ones". For consumers, these terms may be perfectly acceptable. For businesses however, there may be significant implications.

What's yours, stays yours

Google is keen to stress that the Intellectual Property rights to any files stored in Drive remain yours forever. However using Google Drive means that all users, including businesses, grant Google a license to:

"use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works , communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content."

On the plus side, businesses signing up for a paid Google Apps account are promised "confidentiality" for their data in a supplementary agreement. The two different agreements seem to contradict each other, adding an unwelcome layer of ambiguity into the mix.

Which terms of service override the other? Are the Apps for Business terms supplemental or do they take precedence? Just how much of your rights are you signing over when you sign up? The only thing that is clear is that users of the free Google services, including businesses, can have no expectation of privacy.

With so many unanswered questions, Google Apps could actually become a legal minefield for business users and their clients.

Microsoft Office 365 on the other hand is much more straightforward. At no point does the OneDrive Terms of Service grant Microsoft permission to distribute their customers' content for instance.

"3.3. What does Microsoft do with my content? When you upload your content to the services, you agree that it may be used, modified, adapted, saved, reproduced, distributed and displayed to the extent necessary to protect you and to provide, protect and improve Microsoft products and services. For example, we may occasionally use automated means to isolate information from email, chats or photos in order to help detect and protect against spam and malware, or to improve the services with new features that makes them easier to use. When processing your content, Microsoft takes steps to help preserve your privacy."

By having a clear definition of what Microsoft will and will not do with your company data, you can move forward confidently with Office 365.

A potential business problem

The Google Terms of Service prove just how important it is to check what you are agreeing to when signing up for a service - especially one offered for free. This is doubly true when considering that Microsoft's Office 365 service, and accompanying  OneDrive file storage solution, do not require users to hand over access rights to their content. Additionally data deleted from OneDrive stays deleted - Microsoft does not retain any copies for their own use.

From a business point of view, Microsoft Office 365 is a far safer choice for businesses looking to take advantage of Cloud-based productivity software.

If you would like to know more about the advantages offered by Microsoft's Cloud services, give Get Support a call today on 01865 594000.

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