Cloud storage vs Cloud backup vs Cloud sync : What's the difference?

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We hear words associated with the cloud all the time, words like cloud sync, cloud backup and cloud storage. They are all the buzz, they’re found everywhere, but what do they mean? And what are the differences? 

The shared goal of all three is to protect a user’s data and make life easier. The major differences however center on what the user expects from the software. Every type offers a variety of advantages, but depending on the needs of the user, it can impact the type of plan they wish to purchase.

The difference is that backup saves your data in case of loss or damage, and storage creates a gateway to access information from anywhere. Cloud sync on the other hand is for multiple users to access data and make changes across the board from different devices. 

Some software provides more than one feature on a single platform, offering those who need it a chance to utilize all three. Every single person can benefit from the cloud, whether it is for a school project, a business, an academic institute or even an individual’s personal photos and memories.

We’ve all had incidents where we have lost a document, a set of images, an important project or experienced an event where we lost all our data stored on our laptop or mobile.

The thought of simply losing your family memories is upsetting and compelling enough to hop on the cloud train. So, which one is right for you? We break down each type, giving you a straight-forward but thorough overview so you can make the right choice. 

cloud management

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1. What is Cloud storage?

The meaning is in the word itself. Cloud storage is putting information into the cloud, which is an offsite safe and secure location. Simply put, cloud storage is like an external drive in an offsite location, accessed via the internet. It provides access to folders, allowing the user to store as much data as they need and is charged accordingly. Another advantage is the safety it offers, the information stored is replicated, making it available under almost circumstances. 

Cloud providers utilize AWS (Amazon Web Services) or Microsoft Azure, which ensures data recovery and privacy no matter what; smaller players include Google, Oracle, IBM and Alibaba. Another benefit to using cloud storage is the ability to increase the amount you want to store at any time. 

Unlike with an external hard drive, for which you have to buy a whole new device and certainly can’t simply ‘upgrade’ the old one, with cloud storage you can increase the storage capacity of your account by simply increasing your subscription fee. One drawback to cloud storage is the manual entry of all the files you want to store; it does not back up automatically in most cases.

2. What is Cloud sync?

Cloud sync usually does not provide a high storage volume however such a service affords users the chance to access data on multiple devices and allows multiple users to access this data. When changes are made, they are made for all users and some providers also allow for all changes to be made on any device, making this a great option for group tasks or collaboration. 

Taking a group project or a group presentation as an example, cloud sync is your best friend. Users can work from multiple devices and have changes saved on each user's device. Not only does it save space and money but it saves a lot of time. As many people know, finding the time and place that works for multiple people to meet up and work can be problematic, cloud sync can be accessed from anywhere, making it a handy tool for tasks such as this. 

Cloud sync is also one of the most affordable options considering the low storage volume, many platforms are free to use up to a certain extent. This option is not recommended for large documents or massive amounts of information that need to be kept safe. 

Google cloud services

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3. What is Cloud backup?

Backup software operating under a set of rules, sending a copy of a user’s data to cloud storage, can be considered a backup. A fully functioning backup service should automatically back up data regularly, making this one of the most attractive qualities of backup. Additionally, it should ensure privacy by encrypting a user’s data with a password. It should offer multiple file versioning of previous versions and track the changes made. 

To ensure security, a reliable service should compress and de-duplicate data to save on storage expenses as well as have the option to back up select files or all files. In case of damage or loss, cloud backup will be able to recover your information instantly, with the most up to date version available. Cloud backup is recommended for large amounts of data as well as organizations that need to consistently have automatic and frequent backups of their information. 

Cloud backup is usually subscription based and requires a monthly or annual fee although some providers do offer lifetime accounts with a one-time payment. Depending on the amount of data requiring backing up, it is priced accordingly. Another benefit to cloud backup is the ability to add more data if needed at any time, much like cloud storage and unlike an external drive. 

Backing up your data

In this day and age, it has become vital to not only stay in the loop, but to keep up-to-date with the latest software solutions for our increasingly data-driven lives. After reading this, I hope you have a better understanding of what is the best suited option for your data. Depending on the amount of data you have, as well as the need to automatically back up or not will help determine what kind of plan is best suited for you. 

With many providers to choose from, the pricing and quality varies. Some software even offer free plans for a certain amount of storage. When targeting businesses in particular, things like enterprise management, unlimited users, and disaster recovery are vital when it comes to backup applications. Additionally, when it comes to photos, videos and music, backup solutions should automatically back up user data with little or no setup, and without the need for the dragging-and-dropping of files. 

In summary, Cloud storage is accessed via the internet, storing data in a remote offsite center. Whereas Cloud backup allows for the transfer of data to remote servers, depending on the configurations set by the user, and backups are done automatically. Cloud sync is helpful in allowing the sharing of files on multiple devices with multiple users, great for teamwork and shared projects. 

Jay El-Anis

Jay El-Anis is Marketing Manager at Zoolz. He has 10+ years of media acquisition, sales and marketing, content creation experience in various fields including; SaaS, VAS, print, digital publishing, online, satellite television, and outdoor.