Cloud Storage Vs Cloud Backup: What's The Difference?

Cloud Storage vs. Cloud Backup. Aren’t they both the same? The statement is just one of the many misconceptions or myths regarding online backup.

Public-private-Hybrid cloud infrastructure has narrowed the lines between cloud storage and cloud backup, making it hard to distinguish between the two. In fact, some even use the terms interchangeably. Even though cloud storage and cloud backup might sound the same, in reality, they are very different solutions for very different business challenges.

Don’t get us wrong, there can be a lot of good reasons to retain copies of your computer files in the cloud. But we know first hand that when you begin researching options, you may find it overwhelming. There are so many, but how do you know is it the right backup solution for your needs? Choosing the wrong option might end up feeling like you are trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

A lot of people think that cloud storage does the same thing as an online backup or the other way around. This confusion might be because sometimes, cloud storage is termed “online backup” and online backup is termed “cloud backup.” Confusing right?

Why Does it Matter?

It is mandatory to understand the precise difference between these two often-confused technologies so that you can understand which one is best for your organizations' backup goals. Without this critical first step, it could drastically set back your overall backup planning and implementation.

What is Cloud Storage?

Cloud storage is a service that allows you to store files online, with no need for physical devices to store your information. There is Apple’s iCloud, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Microsoft’s SkyDrive; to name a few. Think of it as a cloud-based USB flash drive.

  • If a server goes down in one of the data centers, there is no guarantee that you may ever see those files again. The majority of the services have a web interface to upload your files. Therefore files can only be encrypted on the server-side, which makes transportation less secure.
  • Cloud storage does not offer an automated process to upload or sync data between your computer and their service.
  • Files have to be placed in a shared folder to be synchronized.
  • Only files and folders can be stored, no application data.

Cloud Storage is a great way to share documents, but not to back up your business-critical applications and documents.

What is Cloud Backup?

Cloud backup or online backup is a cloud-based application, which allows you to automatically backup your files, applications, virtual machines, or servers, and store them safely for disaster recovery purposes. Cloud Backup is like insurance for your data and business continuity.

Cloud backup is built around a local client application that ideally runs multiple times daily and automatically schedules in the background. The materials collect, compress, encrypts, and transfers the data to the service provider's servers. The service provider provides incremental backups after the initial full backup to reduce the amount of bandwidth consumed and the time taken to transfer files.

  • The primary data resides in the original location, whereas the secondary data is safely stored in the cloud and used for data recovery.
  • The cloud backup solution stores all data with a custom retention policy, so corrupted files are fixed by restoring earlier versions of a file.
  • Professional cloud backup solutions are comprised of individual plugins to back up data from third-party applications (e.g., MS Outlook, Exchange, SQL).
  • Transparent reporting on the success of the backups indicates that all files are safe.

Which is Best for You? Cloud Backup or Cloud Storage?

Well, it depends. Various services have different scenarios.

If you have relevant data that could be compromised by a catastrophe, a backup will keep your data intact since it is stored or “backed up” to a third-party server. For instance, suppose had important healthcare information on your organizational hard drive, but a storm destroyed your office and all your data. If the data were backed up to the cloud, you would be able to get all of your organization’s relevant information instantly.

Unfortunately, though, you would still need to get a new laptop.

On the other hand, cloud storage can act as a hard drive for your organization as it can store an unlimited number of employee files. For example, if you had employees use laptops that could only store 256GB of data, but instead, they require 2TB of space for work, you could use cloud storage to store and access all of their files on their organization laptops. And all this without spending extra money on more hard drives!

So What Does Zmanda Have to Do With Cloud Backup and Storage?

Zmanda is a worldwide leader in open-source backup and recovery software. Zmanda backup to cloud protects and recovers folders, files, applications, or a complete system.

Zmanda currently supports AWS, GCP, and Wasabi as storage options for backup and recovery.

Our customers do not have to build and maintain the storage infrastructure and can leverage the infrastructure provided by the mentioned cloud providers. It saves the cost of building and maintaining the storage infrastructure.

You can learn more about how we do this here.

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