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Understanding Self-Storage Software Platforms and the Benefits of Web-Based Programs

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By Ken Hendrickson and James Sorenson

Editor’s Note: The authors of this article own a company that provides Web-based self-storage management software. Their opinions are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher.

When looking for software to manage your self-storage facility, you want to ensure the program fits your needs and enables you to accomplish future goals. There’s a plethora of options on the market today, which can make it difficult to determine which is right for your business. In this article, we’ll discuss the available platforms (standalone, Web-enabled and Web-based) and their differences. Then we’ll specifically examine the benefits of Web-based programs.

Standalone

Standalone, or PC-based, software is a traditional platform with which many of you are probably familiar. With this type of program, you download it to your main computer, and it stores all of its data there. The biggest drawback is it can’t facilitate online payments, reservations or real-time reports. It can meet many of your operational needs; however, it lacks flexibility and key features that make it much easier to manage a storage facility in today’s technology-centric environment.

Web-Enabled vs. Web-Based

Web-enabled and Web-based (aka cloud-based) are the two most common software platforms in the self-storage industry today. While they sound similar, there are many differences between them. People use the term “Web-based” pretty freely, but not everyone understands what it really means.

For example, a recent Inside Self-Storage poll asked participants what kind of management software they use. Thirty-nine percent said they use Web-based (cloud-based) software, and 25 percent indicated they use a Web-enabled software. But are those numbers accurate? Do those who are using a Web-enabled program believe they’re using a Web-based program? The number of users claiming their software is cloud-based seems high considering some of the biggest software providers in the industry are Web-enabled.

What does it mean if your software is Web-enabled? It means that while program is installed on a single computer, it communicates with the software provider’s servers for bug fixes and updates as well as the backup and storage of data. Many storage operators who think they have a Web-based program are really using a Web-enabled program.

The easiest way to determine which type of software you’re using is to try accessing it through a smartphone, tablet or some device other than the office computer. Can you fully access the program in its entirety without having to use a remote-access program? Another good way to determine which type of software you have is to ask yourself, “Did I have to download anything onto an actual computer to make the software work?” If the answer is “yes,” then your program isn’t Web-based.

Now let’s talk about Web-based (cloud-based) software, which isn’t installed on a computer. Instead, it’s accessed by logging onto a website through a browser such as Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox or Safari. When you use a Web-based software, you can access it through any computer, smartphone or tablet that has an Internet connection. You can log in from anywhere: home, work or another remote location.

The Benefits of Web-Based

So now that you understand the differences between the three platforms, why should you care? So you can make an informed decision about which platform to use. Here’s why some self-storage operators are leaning toward a Web-based platform:

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