Cloud computing is everywhere. You can’t escape the term these days, and as a small business owner (trust us) you don’t want to.

If the concept is still a little abstract, think of the cloud as a metaphor for the internet. If someone says they are storing something in the cloud, they really just mean they’re storing it on the web. Not too complicated right?

So why is cloud computing such a hot topic these days? It’s because the advantages of cloud computing are tremendous. Here are just a few of our favorite.

Computing via the cloud is reliable.

Because the information you are storing in the cloud is not physically present at your small business, this eliminates concern about hardware crashes or outages causing you to lose your data. As long as you have an internet connection and a device to get onto the web, you’re guaranteed access to the software or service you have acquired. So, for instance, if you’ve opted to adopt a cloud-based POS system in your small business, you never have to worry about your PC-based system crashing, wiping out all of your data or preventing you from completing transactions. It’s an extra little piece of mind that we know small business owners can always appreciate.

SEE ALSO: 8 Expert Tips for Choosing a POS System

It’s also more affordable.

The recently adopted software as a service model (SaaS) is making access to new technology more affordable to small business owners. No longer are you required to pay upfront for large bulky hardware or expensive software packages. The SaaS model is instead a pay-as-you-go subscription model. So you’ll never be caught paying for something that you then decide doesn’t fit your business needs.

Not to mention more secure.

In the past, if your laptop was stolen, any sensitive information saved on the laptop was then accessible to the thief who snatched your belongings. That doesn’t (and shouldn’t) be the case anymore. Now, since all of your data is stored in the “cloud,” the only way someone would be able to access it is if they have your login credentials. This does bring us to a good point; always make sure to choose strong passwords. Don’t make the mistake of using your birthday or your mother’s maiden name. Because if a thief were to ever snatch your computer, the chances they are able to break into your account by simply guessing your password is significantly higher if you’re not careful in choosing your password.

shop owner using a cloud-based POS system

If you want to access your data from anywhere, you can.

One of the top advantages to cloud computing is the ability to access your data from anywhere at anytime. What does that mean exactly? It means the world becomes your office, freeing you up to move about your life as you see fit — never being tied down to your store if you don’t need to be there. As we mentioned in the reliability section above, as long as you have an internet connection and an internet-enabled device, you’re free to work when you want and where you want. This is especially convenient for small businesses using cloud-based POS software. It allows owners and managers to check sales regardless of whether they are in their store, ensuring they are never out of touch with the business.

It requires minimal (if any) hardware.

One of our favorite things about cloud computing is that it requires minimal, if any, hardware. For most cloud computing programs and software, you simply sign up online and start using the application immediately. You don’t need to wait to receive anything in the mail or go through a lengthy setup process. Periodically, especially in the case of POS systems, you’ll want to order some hardware to compliment the program you are using and expand its capabilities. But hardware of this kind is usually minimal, streamlined, and easy to use.

And if disaster strikes, recovering your data won’t be a headache.

Though it’s unpleasant to talk about, periodically disaster strikes a business. Often this can be in the form of a natural disaster where a business might be hit by a storm or fire. Though you’ve probably already purchased insurance to cover your brick-and-mortar business, your inventory, and even hardware and electronics, what about all your data and business information? That’s where cloud computing comes in. As long as you’ve been using cloud-based applications, you never have to worry about backing your data up on a hard drive and then losing it if your business becomes a target of Mother Nature.

The advantages of cloud computing are many. If you are a small business owner, and have yet to embrace cloud-based applications, the sooner you do, the better. Not only will you be making your daily tasks as a business owner easier and more convenient, but you’ll be future proofing your business and setting yourself up for long-term success.

Sara Sugar

Sara Sugar

As Managing Editor at ShopKeep, a leading iPad Point of Sale System, Sara Sugar uses her distinguished journalism background to boil down small business and point of sale topics.