Cloud Storage in China
China now is one of the most attractive markets to do business. However, internet restrictions have always been a problem for international entries. Many of you must be very frustrated with the “Great Firewall,” China’s internet regulation and filter system. You might also find out that VPNs are not stable enough to access Google and other blocked services. In this case, we have conducted a research on emails, cloud storage system, and live co-working platforms with IBB China I&C Technology, that is offering collaboration alternatives for small and medium businesses in China.
What emails can you use in China?
Most personal emails are free, offered by Chinese Internet giants like Tencent, NetEase, Sohu, and Microsoft (Outlook). These emails are good for start-ups: it’s free, it’s able to use in China, and it’s good to send emails to servers abroad. The shortcoming is that you may have some weird suffix in your email address, like “@qq.com” and “@163.com”.
For enterprise emails, NetEase, Tencent, and Sohu offer a free service for small start-ups. To use this service you shall own (or buy) a domain name, and then you can set up an email account with your company’s suffix. You might need a Chinese person to help you with the application because they don’t have English UI. Once you are successfully registered, you can create up to 200 email accounts with your company’s name for free. Of course, you can also host your email privately. Apparently, most foreign companies prefer this way. As the head of marketing & sales in IBB China Mr. Tadas Plonis explained: “Using a big corporate provider may not be a good idea. All big service’s data providers like @qq.com (Tencent) or @163.com (NetEase) are hosted on China’s public cloud. Think that emails are just digital letters. You can choose to keep your “secret letters” in a glass box in a public place, or you can keep them privately in your room or office safe. That is the difference between having your Email on China’s public cloud and hosting it internally.”
Cloud Storage in China: Where do you store your files for work?
Indeed, cloud storage makes co-working and file sharing much easier. However, many cloud storage services have been shut down from June 2016. IBB China tested 15 providers in May. Daxue Consulting re-tested all of them with two additions in November. After the big crackdown, we found out more than half of cloud storages either stopped the service or are blocked by GFW – Great Firewall of China.
Most providers offer personal cloud storage services. These platforms are mostly influenced by Chinese regulations because individual users upload and share on the platform illegal contents like pornographic materials. Thus, providers like Kuaipan(快盘), Vdisk(新浪微盘) and Dbank (华为网盘) had have to close down services. One interesting example is Qihoo 360 Yun Pan(360云盘). The company responded to the new regulations and now it is transforming from offering personal cloud storage to enterprise services. Obviously, you will need to pay for it. The cheapest deal is 159 RMB ($22.99) per year, 200GB storage and 20 user accesses (99 RMB if you pay before 2016/12/31).
The good news is that there are still some operators survived under strict regulations. Most service providers are quite generous on free storage. The most exciting platform is Le Cloud (乐视云盘). Both upload and download connections are very impressive, and the current free storage is unlimited! However, Le Cloud does not allow to upload any videos monitored by the government. If you have more than one video to store, probably it is wiser to choose Baidu Cloud(百度云) and Weiyun (微云).
What if you want to edit your files with others at the same time?
If you work in China or want to collaborate with someone in China, you may need to find co-working platform beyond Google Docs and Dropbox. Most platforms like Youdao (有道云笔记) and Wiz (为知笔记) have multi-terminal services. You can access to the working files on your laptop, your phone and tablet. However, they do not have integration with Microsoft, which means you cannot download your co-working files when you have finished your editing. These platforms usually show compatibility problems. Zoho is the most similar platform to Google Docs, but you may need to pay. The free version is more like a trial. The free storage is only 10MB, and only one project can be created. You can create a new document and edit with others at the same time, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint format. You can also save these documents as MS Office format on your laptop. Zoho is an integrated platform and it also offers extensive services, including emails, project management, meeting schedule and forum. The only disadvantage for Zoho is that it works a little slow in China.
Now you may have a basic understanding of what can be used to support your business. Apparently, for the private sector, most platforms are free in China. On one hand, Providers like Tencent and NetEaseoffer free email services are most commonly used by Chinese people. Cloud storage Weiyun (微云) and Baidu Cloud(百度云) have large storage and fast upload speed. On the other hand, things are a little different for enterprises. You can still use free enterprise emails provided by Tencent, NetEase, and Sohu. They help SMEs host emails with appointed suffix, but the data are saved on China public cloud. Thus, if you want privacy and security, you’d better host emails by yourself. To store business files, you can still choose free personal cloud services. However, Chinese government adjusts policies and internet regulations towards new technology frequently, which may have some negative effects on these providers. Alternatively, Qihoo 360 and IBB China have enterprise deals. You may choose a plan in terms of the business demand. For live co-working platform, Zoho offers the most integrated cooperation platform for a monthly fee.
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