How to Choose Between Local (USB) Drive VS. Cloud-Based Digital Signage Solutions

For your digital signage implementation to be successful, you need to have content. There are a few ways to deliver your content, with pros and cons to using each one – a USB drive or cloud-based digital signage. 

USB Solution for Digital Signage

One way to deliver content to your display is with a USB drive (local-based system). An employee can easily place the pictures or videos on the USB drive and plug them into the device. This method may be quick, easy, and cost-effective; however, is it the most efficient way? Delivering content via a USB drive:

  1. An employee will be required to manually update the content on the USB drive and deliver it to each device and location(s) with no internet capability. 
  2. The number of USB devices could start to add up because an employee will either need to travel to pick up the device, update the content, and then reinstall it or have an inventory of devices to swap out. This can take away from the employees’ productivity in completing other parts of his/her job. 
  3. The relevancy of the content can easily become outdated. Unless planned well in advance, it would be difficult to show daily specials, display community events or recognition, or adjust out of stock inventory from displaying on the screen. 
  4. With a USB drive you don’t have the ability to show live content from news, weather, or even content specific to the time of day. 
  5. With a USB drive you will not have a way to see reporting metrics to determine if a device has gone down or which content is most successful based on your point-of-sale system.  
  6. There is no monthly cost associated with a USB drive; however, relative costs to the manual employee-driven tasks are incurred.

Cloud-Based Solution for Digital Signage

A second way to deliver content to a display is through  cloud-based content management software. The cloud-based system connects via internet connection, wired or wireless. Delivering content via cloud-based software:

  1. The content is delivered over the cloud by a wireless or wired internet connection requiring no employee travel to update the content. No internet connection, or it’s not a great connection? There are options you can explore that will not break the bank.
  2. Content can be updated with the click of a mouse from one central location at any time and requires no travel by an employee, therefore streamlining the employees’ productivity. 
  3. Content can be updated synchronously with the push of a button, anywhere, at any time, and be sent to one or all of your devices. For example, you can remove out-of-stock items from displaying on your screens, push community-specific events or employee birthdays, have content roll across multiple screens, and vary content daily or by location.  
  4. With a cloud-based system, you can display live content from weather, news, or time-specific content. The flexibility is endless to the software you select and can be more dynamic and engaging to your audience. 
  5. Most cloud-based systems provide error alerts or reporting capabilities to see how often specific content was played, when a device has gone down, and for how long. You can compare the information to your point-of-sale to determine what content is influencing purchasing decisions at different times of the day or at certain locations. 
  6. There may be a monthly service fee for your cloud-based system. The monthly service fee will most likely be less and offer more functionality and benefits that are priceless for your business.


Which delivery method is best? You know your brand the best and the objectives you want to achieve. Keeping the above points in mind will hopefully help you decide which content delivery method is right for you. When in doubt, we are happy to consult and help you along the way to make sure you get the most out of your digital signage system.