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Cloud Providers or Backup Software? Which one is better?

The issue isn’t whether or not you should back up your data. We all know the looming dangers of hackers, natural disasters and human error. The question today is should you continue the common practice of using basic cloud storage providers such as Google Drive and Apple iCloud for data backup, when they're not designed for this task, or should organizations and individuals use backup-specific tools such as Carbonite and Moxy? After all, if you are paying for cloud services from one of the major cloud providers, why would you want to pay even more for backup software?

Let’s first discuss the differences between cloud storage services and cloud back-up software. The primary purpose of cloud companies is to synchronize data between devices so that documents, videos, photos or music can be accessed or shared regardless of the location. Conversely, “cloud backup software (also called online backup) protects data and systems in the event of file loss or deletion, stolen or lost devices, mishaps and disasters. Unlike public cloud storage services, today’s more complete backup solutions can back up everything to both the cloud and local disks and drives. This includes pictures, videos, documents, contacts, calendars, reminders, even an entire computer,” explains Pete Wermter, vice president at software backup company Acronis. “You can restore a new device in a matter of minutes and be totally back up, running and on the go — something that no public cloud storage service can do.”

Simply put, cloud providers offer storage capabilities but with backup software your data is automatically and continuously saved and protected. For example, if you delete a document from your Dropbox storage, it’s gone forever. If you accidentally delete something from your backup software, you can restore the information. Both are online and cloud based, but with differing purposes.

Which Should I Choose?
The cost of cloud backup is certainly higher, but tech consultant Marc Staimer advises, “To make the comparisons equivalent, cloud storage must add back in the cost of backup software, the cost of storage hardware, the cost of training personnel to manage the backup process, and the cost of the personnel themselves. In those circumstances, if backup is the primary and, in reality, only justifiable reason for putting data in the cloud, then cloud BURR [backup recovery and restore] will have a lower TCO, deliver better results and is the better choice.”

Cloud storage may be the better option if your needs solely include archiving, content distribution, workflow sharing, email archiving and distributed data access. The security and sensitivity of your data is also an important factor to consider; many cloud storage providers don’t have the level of encryption that cloud back-ups provide.

What About Local Back-Up?
Then there are the more traditional ways to backup data like to an external hard drive. Where does this fit in with cloud technology?

Tim Fisher, PC support expert, comments that, “Local backup is only a better option, in my opinion, if one of the following is true: a) your connection to the Internet is very slow, or b) your Internet connection is metered. Since online backups require high internet usage, these two situations make it difficult to backup successfully.”

Cloud storage and backups surpass onsite hardware because your data is protected against natural disasters, if someone steals your equipment, and obviously the benefits of being able to access your data from anywhere. Additionally, the costs of maintaining tech support rivals the cost of backup software.

Cloud services are a vital part of any business because of the immense tools they provide and the accessibility to your data depends on it. Cloud storage providers are great options for general use and for cost efficiency, but cloud backup companies are worth the investment and research to safeguard your data.

Article by Alex Miller