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It’s easy to confuse Cloud Storage with Cloud Backup. Both services provide a way of securely storing your data in the Cloud, but it’s important to understand that they are used for very different purposes. One is primarily used for storage, whereas the other is used as a form of Business Continuity.
This article provides an easy to understand comparison of Cloud Backup and Cloud Storage, in addition to some additional information that you may find useful when deciding what solution best meets your Business requirements.
What is Cloud Backup?
Cloud Backup is an automated service that takes an incremental backup of your new or changed data and then saves this data to a secure location in the Cloud.
Cloud Backup is considered by many as the safest and most reliable data backup service that is available to Business users because it minimises the risk of backup hardware failure and Human error. It also provides the quickest way to recover your lost or damaged data.
Cloud Storage is used to store your data, whereas Cloud Backup is used to replicate it.
Why is it better to back up your data in the Cloud?
Before the Cloud as we know it existed, most Businesses used an on-premise backup solution that could be taken offsite once the backup was completed. Examples of on-premise backup solutions include an external hard drive, or an external tape drive that backed up the data to a magnetic tape.
on-premise backups were considered unreliable because backup tapes were fragile and prone to failure, external drives would often get damaged in transit and human error would often result in people forgetting to change the backup tapes, or leaving them in the office!
What is Cloud Storage?
Whereas Cloud Backup is a dedicated data backup platform that is built with Business Continuity in mind, Cloud Storage is based on a utility storage model, which is more comparable to an external hard drive or USB drive that is accessible online from the Cloud.
Cloud Storage is indeed just that – an area in the Cloud where you store your data! Instead of storing your data on your hard drive or another local storage device in the office, you save your data online to a server (or multiple servers) that are hosted in a data centre.
Again – Cloud Storage is used to store your data, whereas Cloud Backup is used to replicate it.
Examples of Cloud storage services.
Public Cloud storage.
Private Cloud Storage.
Private Cloud Storage is a dedicated storage solution that is typically owned and used exclusively by a single Organisation.
In addition to saving your data in the Cloud, most Cloud Storage solutions allow you to securely share your data with others. This is typically achieved by sending a custom URL which points to a file that you’ve selected for sharing. Once this URL is clicked, the recipient will be allowed to view, edit and download your file(s) depending on the permissions you have setup.
Cloud Storage Synchronisation (sync).
Many Cloud storage services now feature something called Cloud Storage Sync. In effect, Sync lets you synchronise your locally saved data with your data that’s stored in the Cloud by saving it in a dedicated Sync folder.
With Cloud Storage services offering file syncing, the line between Cloud Storage and Cloud Backup has become somewhat blurred. However, there are some key differences that should be considered before you commit to using a specific service.
When is Cloud Backup the best solution?
If your priority is Business Continuity (or Disaster Recovery) then Cloud Backup is the best solution because it continuously runs in the background, replicating any files that have been created or changed locally in the Cloud. Alternatively, if your Internet connection isn’t great, then you can schedule your backup to run out of hours when no one is working in the office.
A Cloud Backup solution has the capability to backup your entire file system structure, allowing you to restore data on a failed hard drive back to its original configuration in the event of a failure. Just make sure that you have setup the backup schedule correctly!
Lastly, Cloud Storage solutions do not have the same scheduling capabilities as Cloud Backup services.
When is Cloud Storage the best solution?
Cloud Storage should be used to supplement your local storage solution, providing you with a safe and secure location to store your files and data, mitigating the risk of data loss from theft, hardware failure or human error. This is achieved by replacing your local data storage with a Cloud-based solution.
If you are a personal user, there are many Free Cloud Storage solutions available that will provide you with ample data storage. For example, Microsoft’s OneDrive Basic version comes with 5 GB of storage, and it’s completely free!
I recently read a post on Facebook from a friend that lost their entire University thesis because it was saved locally on their laptop – that was stolen from their car. This situation would have been completely avoided if they saved their work in the Cloud. A harsh lesson to learn.
Again, it’s important to remember that Cloud Storage is used for storing data, whereas Cloud Backup is used to replicate it.
A Cloud Backup solution is an essential tool for ensuring Business Continuity, and to form part of your Organisations Disaster Recovery plan. Cloud storage on the other hand should be used as an alternative to local storage, providing you with a safe and secure platform to store and access your data from any location in the world with internet access.