Cloud storage. Cloud backups. These two complementary services may sound similar, and in some ways they are alike. But when it comes down to it, cloud backups and cloud storage are completely different, especially when it comes to breadth. They are more like Poppa Bear and Baby Bear than Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. And the truth is, you don’t really have to choose – you can have both solutions from a single cloud backup provider.
What is Cloud Storage?
Cloud storage, also known as file sharing, simply entails storing modest amounts of data online. These data amounts include only files that you manually select. There are two main types of cloud storage: either files are stored in the cloud and accessed directly through the host site (such as Google Drive), or the system is integrated with your computer so that you can edit files in the cloud right from your desktop (such as DropBox).
Cloud storage can be very convenient for certain things, like collaborating with coworkers, sharing files with friends, or giving yourself access to specific data from a computer that is not your own. However, cloud storage is generally limited in capacity and is not a substitute for full backups. Only the few files that you have stored in a cloud storage account will be recoverable if you should experience computer data loss.
What Are Cloud Backups?
Cloud backups are the big boys in town. They back up large amounts of data to protect against data loss. Unlike cloud storage, which backs up only limited files that you select, cloud backup plans have large data capacities and are built to back up the majority, if not all, of the data on your computer. For instance, BackBlaze, a cloud backup provider, is one of the many cloud backup providers that automatically backs up everything on your computer except your operating system – you never have to select anything.
Cloud backups do many of the same things that cloud storage does. With cloud backups, you can access to your data from any device with internet access (many cloud backup providers even offer free mobile phone apps), making flash drives and email attachments to yourself totally unnecessary.
But the main purpose of a cloud backup is to provide full protection against data loss. If your computer is destroyed, stolen, or otherwise compromised, you will be able to recover everything from your cloud backup – not just the limited amount of files you put in cloud storage. In fact, the only function of cloud storage that is not included default with cloud backups is the ability to share specific files with other people.
If you want the convenience of cloud storage with the protection of cloud backups, you are in luck. Many cloud backup providers now offer file sharing with their services. After all, if your data is already backed up in the cloud, making some of it available to others isn’t much of a stretch. Cloud backup services that do this make it so you can invite people to access only the files you want them to see. This protects your privacy while giving Uncle Bob access to the pictures from the family reunion.
SugarSync, SpiderOak, SOS, and Mozy are some of our favorite cloud backup providers with file sharing. In fact, the only three cloud backup providers that we have reviewed that don’t offer this service are CrashPlan, BackBlaze, and Carbonite. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that they will add file sharing in the near future.