The range of cloud services is constantly growing. Instead of maintaining your own server, freelancers can easily transfer their invoices, files and receipts to a cloud service and benefit from many advantages. Is it worthwhile to transfer your data to a cloud service or are there still good reasons to store files better on your own computer or server?
Advantages of Cloud Services
For the installation and configuration of your own system / file server you should at least have basic computer skills. Port releases, user administration, VPN etc. should not be foreign words. Setting up a cloud service is much easier. Email, username, password and done.
Availability & Usability
Providers of cloud services provide not only server access but also excellent apps for mobile access. Access to files is simple, intuitive and works from almost any device. Some providers offer graphically appealing dashboards. Cloud services for accounting offer clear displays of income and expenses and provide notifications, e.g. when invoices and payments are overdue.
Technical malfunctions on your own system are sometimes very time-consuming. Maintenance work distracts from the actual activity. Security updates, connection problems or technical faults, on the other hand, are carried out or corrected by the provider of the cloud service.
Disadvantages of Cloud Services
Once in the cloud always in the cloud! At least this is true for some services. While with Dropbox it is relatively easy to transfer all files to your own server or computer, the bond with cloud services is much stronger in the area of accounting. It should at least be possible to export debits as DATEV. Settings for the invoices such as number ranges for invoice numbers or charts of accounts must otherwise be set up again with difficulty after a change.
Note for the creative among you:
Adobe also ties relatively strongly to the service with the Creative Cloud. Important programs such as Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. can only be leased in the monthly Cloud subscription. Full versions with a one-off payment have not been available for a long time. Files of some programs are not downward compatible. This means that files saved with the cloud version may not be opened with an older full version. To open the files you still have to use the cloud service.
When using cloud services, you not only upload your own data to an external server, but also data of customers, suppliers and employees. The transfer of sensitive data can cause considerable damage to the freelance existence if this data falls into the wrong hands. However, even your own computer / server is not 100% safe from data theft.
As a graphic designer I often work with large files such as high-resolution pictures or films. The speed of file transfer over the internet is much slower than in a local network.
Conclusion: Cloud services for freelancers
Cloud services are now available for many areas of freelance work. Accounting, contact management, project management, file sharing or software usage are just a few examples. Disadvantages such as lower data transfer rates compared to local networks will become less and less important in the future due to faster Internet connections.
For me, data protection and the sometimes extremely high level of commitment to the company are reason enough to continue using my own server. Many server manufacturers now offer apps to access and share files with mobile devices. These apps are constantly evolving, even if the quality of usability is sometimes significantly behind the apps of cloud service providers. How do you manage your data?