Let’s agree what we mean by cloud storage and cloud backup:
Cloud storage = online storage.
Cloud backup = online backup.
Now, let’s get on with it…
1. Cloud Storage & Cloud Backup: Is There a Difference?
The short answer is Y.E.S! Cloud storage and cloud backup are like apples and oranges.
It is relatively easy to assume that cloud backup and cloud storage are the same thing – after all, they both allow you to store files online. Nevertheless, there are some significant differences. Let’s delve into these.
2. Cloud Storage vs. Cloud Backup: Key Differences
i. Intended use
The main difference between cloud storage and data backup is simply intended use.
Cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive are good for storing and synchronizing files, folders, photos or videos to one central location – the cloud. Cloud storage was designed to allow easy access and editing of files from any device. It was designed to make it easy to share files with family, colleagues or other users.
It also allows easy and quick synchronization between multiple devices.
But online storage isn’t the same thing as backup.
Online backup is specifically designed to make copies of your files/folders or complete systems (operating systems, applications, databases) at a point in time to allow recovery at a future time- in the event of data loss.
ii. Online storage cannot do a full system backup
Online storage cannot do a full system or virtual machine backup. It can also not do application or database backup.
On the other hand, cloud backups can automatically copy and store an entire computer system or virtual machine. In the event of a disaster, business operations can be restored in minutes by simply failing over to the online backup.
iii. Cloud backup is more secure
Because data stored in cloud storage is frequently accessed, it is more prone to unauthorized access. This can happen to all types of email – including those hosted by tech giants. If anyone gains access to your email account, they will automatically have access to data stored in your cloud storage e.g., OneDrive, Google Drive, etc.
Conversely, by their nature, cloud backups are usually only intended to be accessed in the event of a disaster – in which case a complete data recovery is required. This data in backup is not intended to be accessed or edited frequently. For this reason, risk of any kind of corruption or hacking data in cloud backup is comparatively less.
iv. Cloud storage is often not automated
With most cloud storage solutions, a user must manually select files to store in the cloud and copy them into the software for it to upload/sync to the cloud. This may actually be sufficient and work well with an individual’s documents. However, for a business with multiple applications e.g., ERP, databases, this may not be the most ideal solution for backup purposes as it will end up being a manual backup.
Online backup solutions are however usually configured to save files automatically at regular preset intervals.
2. So which is Better for my Business: Cloud Storage or Cloud Backup?
While online backup has advantages over cloud storage as a business backup solution, attempting to say that online backup is better than cloud storage is akin to saying that apples are better than oranges. The truth is, the two have fundamentally different uses for business and therefore should not be compared.
The answer to the question, “So which is better?” is, “It depends on what problem the business is trying to solve.”
If you’re still having trouble trying to decide where to put your important business data, systems and files, here are some major points you should consider.
2.1 When to choose a cloud backup solution
A cloud backup solution might be suitable when:
- You want to store complete backups of your servers, virtual machines, applications, databases online.
- The security of your data is of paramount importance
- You need offsite backup to ensure you implement your 3-2-1 backup strategy.
- You want an easy, automated backup process.
2.2 When to choose a cloud storage solution
A cloud storage solution might be suitable when:
- You have only a few files and folders you want to store in the cloud (rather than needing to perform complete system backups or saving only complete folders).
- Your files and folders need to be accessible on different devices (PC, laptop, phone, tablet).
- You need to share/edit files and folders with colleagues or others quickly and easily.
While there are similarities between the two, cloud storage and cloud backup have completely different uses. However, when it comes to considerations for backup and disaster recovery planning, cloud storage services don’t provide the same peace of mind that cloud backup services offer. Cloud storage is suitable only if you need to store or share a limited number of files and are not overly concerned about their security.