Many people use cloud file sharing and storage services like Dropbox and OneDrive. Those services make it easy to keep documents all in one place, sync them between your devices, and share them through a link.
However, one mistake people make when using them is thinking that they’re the same thing as a cloud backup.
There are distinct differences between file storage/sharing solutions and backup/recovery solutions. While they both handle your digital assets and keep them stored in a cloud environment, their purposes are very different, and not understanding that can result in data loss.
When you sign up for a managed backup service, you’ll notice that technology professionals, like Texas I.T. Pros, aren’t using cloud storage services for your backup, but instead are using programs specifically designed for backup and recovery, like Datto and Replibit.
File Loss from Storage/Sharing Apps
One file loss story from the site Lifehacker illustrates a key problem with using file storage services for your backups.
A person that was trying to save space on his hard drive turned on the “selective sync” option in Dropbox, which kept the files in Dropbox instead of saving them on his hard drive too. The sync client crashed and he rebooted as anyone would typically do, only to find out months later that all his files had been deleted from Dropbox and were unrecoverable because it only retained files in the recycle bin for 30 days.
iCloud users are also familiar with the problems that can happen when mistaking a cloud storage service for a cloud backup service. One iPhone user who thought her photos were safely saved in iCloud, didn’t realize she needed to sign out of iCloud on her iPhone before doing a factory reset when upgrading to a new one. It deleted all the photos that phone had taken from iCloud automatically.
What’s the Difference Between Cloud “Storage” and Cloud “Backup?”
Just because you can automatically send a copy of a photo from your phone to OneDrive or sync your computer with Dropbox to copy and store your files, doesn’t make these services a proper backup and recovery solution.
Following are the key differences between cloud storage and cloud backup solutions.
Cloud Storage Solutions (OneDrive, Dropbox, etc.)
Services like OneDrive and Dropbox are considered cloud storage services, and their purpose is to save a copy of your files online which can be synced between your devices, so you can access them anywhere.
They also make it easy to share files by inviting someone to access a folder or sending them a link.
Where they fall short as a backup is in a couple of key areas. First, they’re not designed to take a full system image and then do a full system restore, like a cloud backup solution is. So, it’s akin to copying files and folders to a thumb drive, rather than having a backup include your operating system and everything on it.
Second, files can be deleted and lost from the cloud and their retention periods for deleted files are generally about 30 days.
For example, if you delete a user from Office 365 and don’t reassign their files, they can be deleted without warning. Microsoft explains, “If access delegation is disabled or a manager or secondary owner isn’t set for a user, no one will have automatic access when the user is deleted or be warned that the OneDrive will be deleted.”
If you delete a file on your hard drive thinking you have a copy safely stored online, you can also cause it to be deleted from a cloud storage service like Dropbox depending upon your sync settings.
Cloud Backup Solutions (Datto, Replibit, etc.)
Cloud backup solutions are specifically designed to back up your entire device according to regular intervals and keep a copy saved with a retention period that you choose.
They keep not just one backup, but can be set to keep several, for example, a monthly, weekly, and daily, and you can designate how long they’re retained before being replaced by a more recent copy.
You don’t run the risk of accidentally deleting a file from the cloud when you delete it from your device like you do with cloud storage.
Backup solutions are also designed for quick recovery of your data (operating system, settings, applications, files) because they use image-based backup rather than just saving individual files.
One key point that helps nail home the difference, is that cloud backup solutions can also do cloud-to-cloud backups, meaning they are designed to back up your data that’s in cloud solutions (like Office 365, OneDrive, Dropbox, etc.) since those services are not designed to act as a backup.
Does Your Backup Plan Have You Covered?
Does your business continuity strategy include the right backup plan? Texas I.T. Pros can take a look at your data flow and where your files are stored and help you come up with the right strategy to ensure your digital assets are properly backed up and restorable when you need them.
Contact us today to schedule a backup consultation! Call 940-239-6500 or reach out online.