There is a basic difference between “storage” and “backup”. To quote Cambridge Dictionary, storage is defined as “the putting and keeping of things in a special place for use in the future”. On the other hand, backup is defined as “support or help, or something that you have arranged in case your main plans, equipment, etc. go wrong”. Now, if we add “Cloud” to both the words, we have two very specific set of services to tackle different but pressing business challenges.
CLOUD STORAGE: Advantages and Disadvantages
The cloud serves as a great failsafe way of storing important data without the risk of hardware failure, theft or any other mishaps. The information gets stored in data centres, which can be located anywhere in the world, and managed by a cloud service provider. It is like a pen drive, but in the cloud! You can use it on any device like phone, tab, and laptops and retrieve the data. If password protected, then no one but you can access the information. Some of the very famous examples of cloud storage are Google Drive, AWS, Azure, Apple’s iCloud and many more.
However just like everything else in this world, cloud storage has its list of disadvantages. Since the information gets stored in various data centres, the availability of the data completely depends on how well those racks are maintained. In other words, there is no guarantee, no monitoring and no support in cloud storage. So, if a data centre goes down, you might lose all the information and may never be able to retrieve those files again.
For the ease of uploading data, almost all cloud services come with a user-friendly web interface. Hence, the encryption of the data happens only at the server end, making the whole process of data transportation less secure. The cloud storage services do not offer automation of uploading or synching of files between the end-user device and the cloud. To store the data, the files have to be manually placed or saved in the cloud. Also, the service providers do not provide the liberty of storing application data.
Though it is a great and economic way of storing and sharing documents and files, relying only on cloud storage for saving business critical documents and applications is not a wise move.
What is Cloud Backup?
The main characteristics which differentiates cloud backup from cloud storage is the fact that backup enables businesses to store, backup and most importantly RECOVER important information. These backup services typically run once-a-day (or as scheduled by the user) to store the information of the user systems. The main advantage of this service is that it ensures business continuity, unlike cloud storage. The purpose of cloud backup is replicating the user hard drive, not supplementing or adding extra storage to it. An analogy of it would be like taking out multiple print outs of a really valuable document, just to have extra copies in case something happens to the original one.
The backup program gathers, compresses, encrypts, and transfers data to the computers or off-site hardware of the service provider. There are many varieties of cloud backup services available in the market. The latest versions of the service typically runs the data-backup continuously to capture changes to user systems nearly in real-time. LAN based cloud backup systems generally offer services like Active Directory, Disaster Recovery and so on. However, it should be noted that Cloud backup and Disaster Recovery are not the same. Check out our blog explaining the differences between these two services and how to plan a DR strategy for your company.
Cloud Storage vs. Cloud Backup
In the Cloud storage service, the data is maintained, managed, backed up in the cloud and made available to users through the internet. On the other hand, cloud backup provides an extra copy of the stored documents, files or application data by sending that information over a network to an off-site server.
The main characteristics of this service is to store files and documents online and make those available remotely, 24/7.
|The main characteristic of this service is to backup the files, information and application data of the user device and store them for the purpose of Disaster Recovery.|
User does not receive “status report” to see if all his/her files are stored in the cloud.
|The user receives status reports of the success of backups and is able to verify whether all the files are safe or not.|
|Majority of services have web interface for the ease of uploading the files. This makes the files encrypted only on the server side.||The service provider ensures that the files and data backed-up are properly encrypted.|
|Files have to be stored manually, one-by-one.||The backup process is automatic and can be scheduled as per the convenience of the user.|
|Only files and folder can be stored.||All files like hidden and locked files, plug-ins, application data etc. Can be backed-up.|
So in conclusion...
The cloud is not a one-size-fits-all solution. While both the services have their own merits and disadvantages, the unique requirement of the business should be kept in mind before choosing a service. While cloud storage is enough to store information on an individual level, simply storing data might not be enough for businesses. A cloud backup solution is the most beneficial for most organizations, but some companies can benefit from running both solutions. Whichever solution best suits your business, backing up data is essential and should not be left until it’s too late!
See Also - Impact of Cloud Computing in E-Learning