I have worked with many small businesses and it is a challenge to find reliable, cost-effective and easy to use cloud email and file storage. I have both professionally and personally used many cloud options, and I am sharing what I believe is the best combo of services for most people.
Fastmail I have written about before and I personally love it. It is only $10 per year based on my usage, but it has everything that people who use Gmail are used to. In addition to email, it can handle contacts, 60GB of file storage, and works perfectly on the iPhone/iPad. It really has been a pleasure to use. It has been more reliable than Gmail, and much cheaper than the other options I discuss in the link above.
PCloud is a new service for me, but is much better than Box.net or any other cloud based file sharing service. I have used Box.net for businesses in the past because for the most part it is easy to use and secure, but it has some difficult limitations. For example it limits your upload speed, it doesn’t allow any file type like PST that people like to store email in, and it has frequent add-on updates that frustrate people. PCloud has none of those limitations.
It also has a better way of dealing with people outside the company, and other unique features that I haven’t found on other file sharing services. It is cheaper than Box and since it is located in Switzerland has great privacy. It allows you to create a unique phrase for encrypting your files, so you know they are secure. It has a unique desktop client. With Box Sync everything you sync to your computer takes up space because it is a real file taking up space. However with PCloud desktop, it doesn’t store actual files on your computer so that means that you will always need an Internet connection. However it also means that it won’t take up any disk space, which is a huge benefit for those who work with teams or business. This is especially great for limited space desktops like laptops. Another nice feature is that when you use it in a browser like Chrome it doesn’t time out. I left it open and the next day I didn’t need to log back in. This is a great time saver for people who prefer using a browser to manage files.
Office 365 is often too expensive for people or small business. Google Apps for business is cheaper, but it is not as easy to use as Box or PCloud. Most people find it confusing who are older than 40. So it doesn’t matter how cheap it is if it costs the help desk too much time explaining how to use it. PCloud is intuitive and features the ability to easily make sense with how things are setup. I like the fact that the more affordable price is a nice balance between Box features, and Google App affordability. Totally worth trying if you are looking for email/file storage.