Document storage systems are important for your online wellness business. They make it more convenient and secure for you, your team and your customers. In this article I take a look at the reasons for using document storage systems and look at several different systems and what they do best.
What are document storage systems?
I once read an interview with a British author who had collaborated with an American author in the late 80s. The collaborated by using phone calls and by mailing floppy disks. Now we can collaborate with someone on the other side of the world in a matter of seconds.
Document storage systems are not just for collaboration. Most documents for your business should not be stored only on your computer hard drive. Your hard drive can fail, become infected with a virus and can’t be accessed by other people. Some type of cloud storage is a much better idea.
You'll also need a place where your clients and fans can access documents like guides, worksheets and handouts.
In this article I’ll discuss a few of the most popular document storage systems and when you should use them.
Why you need at least one document storage system
There are several reasons you should use one or more cloud based document storage systems:
Your hard drive can fail. This means that all the work you have on your hard drive can be lost. A cloud based system makes a good way to back up your files. You can also use a second drive (something like an Apple time machine) to backup important files.
Others can’t access stuff on your hard drive. You might be sharing files with clients, virtual assistants, team members or even when people sign up to your email list. In these cases a cloud based storage system is a must.
You may need a secure place to store client records. Your hard drive is not considered secure since your laptop or computer could be stolen and the records with them. (You can also use some type of client management system for this)
What to look for in a document storage system
You may need more than one document storage system depending on your needs. What you need will depend on your needs for collaboration, ease of access, and security.
The key places you may need a document storage system are:
- Backup of business documents
- Being able to work on the same thing on multiple devices
- Providing documents to team members or VAs
- Storing client information
- Program documentation
- Free downloads
Each of these will have different requirements.
What document storage system should you choose?
There are several different ways to store documents depending on your needs. In this section I look at systems that can be used for internal documents, external documents and for collaboration.
Google drive is part of Google Suite. It is one of the best systems available for collaboration. Google drive is a great place for transferring files with a virutal assistant or with team members or even for backing up or keeping your own files easily accessible. You can use the free version for up to 15 GB of storage. This is the most generous of the free plans available.
Google suite is a full office suite so you can create documents, spreadsheets, presentations and forms. A file created on Google drive can be edited by anyone who has edit access. You can even use it for real time collaboration on the same document. You can also store other types of files like pdfs on your Google drive.
Google also uses secure encryption to protect your files. This means it can be used for storing client data securely. Google drive does not allow documents to be password protected.
Google drive has apps for iOS, Android, and Windows, but not for MacOS.
Best for: collaboration, all round storage system
Dropbox has made many changes which makes it a more desirable document storage system. You can now use it in combination with other apps like Microsoft office for real time collaboration. It also works well for backing up your hard drive. It's free version only offers 2 GB of storage, so you would have to consider the paid version quite soon.
If you are using Dropbox to store opt in freebies or downloads for clients to access you can send a link. However they will get a pop up asking them to log into Dropbox. Logging in is not necessary, but the popup might turn some people off.
One of the best features of Dropbox is that it allows you to automatically back up files that you store on your hard drive.
Dropbox offers similar security to google drive. They have apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android.
Best for: File backup, version control
Amazon Web Services
Amazon Web Services S3 is also a popular document storge system. It is not used for collaboration, only for storing documents you want others to download like PDFs.
This is one of the most complicated and least intuitive systems to understand and use. It is even difficult to understand the pricing. Partly because Amazon Web Services offers so many different solutions it is difficult to understand what you need and what you are paying for.
Best for: tech savvy, multiple uses
Microsoft One Drive
If you are using Microsoft office for most of your documents, then you might want to consider Microsoft One Drive for your internal document storage. You can also use it to share files.
If you have a Microsoft 365 subscription you may already have access to cloud storage, so this may be your best option for internal file storage.
Best for: Microsoft users
Apple iCloud Drive
On the other hand if you use Apple apps like pages and Keynote, then iCloud might be a better choice for internatl document storage. If you use multiple Apple devices, iCloud drive provides you with easy access to files. You can also use it to share files.
The only issue I've run into with iCloud drive is that it doesn’t provide easy offline access on iPhones and iPads.
Best for: Apple users, solo businesses
Your email marketing platform
When sending an email, you should not attach the document. Many email systems won’t allow attachments to be downloaded, or can even reject emails that include attachments.
For external documents like free guides or printables that are delivered by email, you may be able to store these directly on your email marketing platform.
However most email platforms don’t offer this option, so you will likely need to find a different solution.
Best for: linking documents within emails
Your website is a great place to store external documents. PDFs can usually be stored in your media library along with images.
Keep in mind that with this option anyone with a link can access the file.
Best for: external documents like free guides
If you have an online course or program hosted on a course platform, you may be able to use this for some of your external online storage. You’ll especially want to include any program downloads on your course platform, but some platforms make it easy to host free content as well, or even to use with clients.
Best for: storing downloads within courses, memberships and programs
You can choose one or more cloud based document storage systems. Based on your collaboration, security and convenience needs one of these systems will likely work for the different areas of your business. You may use Google drive for collaborating with team mates or sharing files with virtual assistants, your website for storing downloadable PDFs and Dropbox for backing up your files.