Rewind the Clock with Cloud Backup Versioning

Cloud backup versioningRachel is working on her dissertation. She has been slaving away on it for months, and it is almost ready for publication. Of course, she has cloud backups to protect her work. But right before she clicks “Save,” her phone rings. Rachel accidentally hits the “Delete” button before hitting “Save,” saving a blank document instead of her dissertation.


When Rachel gets back to her desk, she realizes what happened. Instead of freaking out, Rachel logs into her cloud backup account, finds her dissertation file, and reverts back to a version of it from an hour before. Rachel as retrieved her dissertation using a clever cloud backup feature called versioning.


What Is Versioning?


The word versioning stems from the word version, and for good reason. Versioning allows cloud backup providers to save multiple copies of the same file. It lets users revert back to earlier versions of files whenever they need to. Rachel’s cloud backup provider has many copies of Rachel’s dissertation: she could have chosen a copy from three months ago ago as easily as she chose the copy from an hour ago.


Versioning can come in handy on larger time scales as easily as it protects from accidental document deletion. I discovered this myself a while back when I inadvertently saved a big folder of thumbnail-sized vacation photos instead the full-definition versions. I saved over the files when I was archiving them, so I did not discover the mistake for several months. Luckily, I was able to go back to a much earlier version of the file and recover the full-sized photos.


Which Cloud Backup Providers Have the Best Versioning Policies?

The best cloud backup providers all have versioning policies. However, some policies are more generous than others. Here are the versioning plans for some of our top-rated cloud backup providers.


Unlimited: Unlimited versioning plans are a coveted rarity in the cloud backup world, since they require so much server space.  They are a major talking point for cloud backup providers that do have them, and they give customers maximum protection against accidental file changes. Three of our top-rated cloud backup providers offer unlimited versioning: CrashPlan (starting at $4.79/mo), SOS (starting at $3.58/mo), and SpiderOak (starting at $10/mo).


90 Days: Three months isn’t nearly as good as unlimited, but it is still on the better side of the spectrum where cloud backup versioning is concerned. Carbonite (starting at $5/mo) is the only one of our top cloud backup providers with a 90-day versioning policy.


30 Days: 30 days is the industry standard for cloud backup plans. BackBlaze (starting at $4.17/mo) and Mozy (starting at $5.99/mo) both adhere to this policy.


Other: A few cloud backup providers base their versioning policies on the number of versions rather than amount of time. Sugarsync (staring at $5.32/mo) has a five-version policy, meaning it keeps five versions of each file. That doesn’t sound too bad, but it could lead to problems. For instance, if Rachel accidentally deleted a portion of her dissertation in the morning, worked on it all day, and saved it five times in the interim, she would be out of luck.



Cloud backup versioning is an extra layer of protection against data loss. Knowing your cloud backup provider’s policy – or picking a cloud backup provider with unlimited versioning – will help you keep all of your data for the long haul.

Lynn is the founder and chief editor at She is responsible for strategy and business development. Her background is in software development, marketing, and project management. She loves camping, traveling, and all things soccer related. She has been married for over 30 years to one great guy and has two adult children. Lynn is also the human companion to two cats - Jynx and Spanky. She is based in Minnesota, USA.

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