Online Backup Vs. Cloud Storage - InformationWeek
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Larry Seltzer
Larry Seltzer
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Online Backup Vs. Cloud Storage

Online backup services such as Carbonite, Acronis, IDrive and Mozy might be a bad deal for some users when compared to cloud storage services Box, Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft Skydrive. The former usually just backs up files; the latter does backs up files and also gives you working access to them.

Before cloud storage services established themselves, online backup services had been around for years. Carbonite was big enough to get itself preloaded on many OEM Windows systems and became the most famous of the online services. Mozy is also very well known. At the same time, many general security suites have for years included online backup as a feature. Typically you get a few gigabytes with the base subscription price of the suite and can buy more storage. Symantec, McAfee and Comodo are three that take this approach.

As a general rule, online backup services allow you to back up and restore files. That's it. With hard drive sizes well into the hundreds of gigabytes, this necessarily means that you're only backing up a portion of your system, so many of these services default to backing up your My Documents and other data folders.

Cloud storage is different. These services take a portion of your hard drive and synchronize it with the online storage. Make changes on the hard disk and they are quickly replicated to the cloud storage. If you have other systems on the account, the files are synchronized down to them. And so as you work on your files they are automatically backed up.

So why bother with backup services at all? Perhaps a cloud service is at least as good at backup and gives you full access as well. This is very often true, and so I'm sure there are many users who are paying for an online backup service who would be better-served by a cloud storage service.

SugarSync markets on both sides of the street. It offers classic backup services as well as file synch support, plus some interesting additional features, such as a a Microsoft Outlook plugin that uses SugarSync to store e-mailed attachments. That's a really clever idea.

On the other hand, SugarSync is expensive. Looking at 100 GB as an example, SugarSync costs 50% more than Dropbox, 150% more than Google Drive, and 200% more than SkyDrive. Pure backup products are cheaper per gigabyte and they'd better be, because they do so much less.

I found this review roundup of 27 online backup services on A quick survey of these services gives me the impression that the backup-only ones tend to be cheaper per gigabyte, perhaps even advertising unlimited backup space.

Claims of "unlimited" service on the Internet usually have some sort of caveat in them. Many years ago I challenged Web hosting services that claimed "unlimited bandwidth" for cheap hosting accounts whether that was literally true -- and they generally admitted that customers who abuse the privilege would be persuaded to be reasonable. Carbonite says only that "...for exceptionally large backups -- 200GB or more -- backup speed will slow noticeably after the first 200GBs have been backed up."

The real question you should ask yourself is whether online backup of more than 100 GB really makes sense for you. It's possible that you have a large music or image or video library you'd like to back up; if so, a pure backup service is probably your best solution. But maybe not your only solution.

As I recently explained, Dropbox has changed the way I work because of how it keeps all my computers in synch. I don't care about backing up files anymore. They're all in Dropbox. Most of my photos are on Phanfare, a separate service I like. This is something else to consider: Are all your images in Picasso, your music in iTunes, and so on? You might already be backed up.

Paying for and using a backup service is the sign of a smart user who knows things can go wrong. Go a little further and make sure you're getting the best kind of backup for the way you use your data.

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User Rank: Apprentice
3/17/2014 | 5:13:35 AM
Its a very well written article so far i have ever reaad but it really does not matter that what came first, What matter is what people are prefering now a days in this such modren working environment where data security has been taken very seriously.

People prefer cloud storage instead on online storage as per many data securoty officials.

There are many encryption software where you can save your data online or online cloud storage.

I have been using data protecto for online cloud storge and its giving me free 500mb space.
[email protected],
User Rank: Apprentice
3/11/2014 | 3:28:39 PM
Why Choose Between Online Only or Cloud Only: Hybrid is Best of Both

Datto utilizes Hybrid Cloud Technology to improve redundancy and allow users greater protection of their systems and data.  Hybrid Cloud continuity is simple in concept yet robust in feature set; it leverages the advantages of local backup and the security of the cloud.

It starts with workstations and servers protecting data locally across the Local Area Network (LAN) to the Datto appliance from there it is automatically transmitted to the secure Datto cloud. This technology improves fault tolerance while reducing the reliance on bandwidth speed. The local Datto device can act as a restore hub for everything from files to application and system fail over, it can also act as a staging environment for offsite transfer. Scheduling off-site data transfers can be critical for bandwidth management and carries no risk of having unsaved backups. In addition, should the local device be compromised data that was transferred to the Cloud can act as a replica site for the business.  A local only backup option cannot ensure data integrity should a site wide disaster occur.

User Rank: Apprentice
3/10/2014 | 10:27:16 PM
Re: Cloud Storage is not a replacement for Online Backup
DavidL602 has it right.  Plus, with products like Acronis it is possible to do a bare metal recovery.  With the sync/share, if you were to lose your laptop or have it fail, you would have to reinstall the OS which could mean finding disks, drivers, configuration parameters, license keys, and bring it up to the point where you could copy your files back.


WIth products like Acronis you just boot from a USB key and recover the entire system image form the cloud. 
User Rank: Apprentice
3/10/2014 | 1:43:02 PM
OngoSync a Mobile App, to safely and securely backup/Sync Mobile data to Cloud
OngoSync is a Mobile App, to safely and securely backup/Sync Contacts, Call Logs, SMS, MMS, Browser Bookmarks, Media and non Media Files from your Mobile to our cloud.

View/edit/share your mobile data(Contacts, Call Log History, Bookmarks, Text and Multimedia messages, File Content), anywhere, anytime online(, even when your Mobile is not with you.

Control upload/download of individual data like Contacts, Call Log History, Bookmarks, Text and Multimedia messages, Bookmarks, File Content.

Currently, Mobile App is available only for Android Platform. Google Play link is
User Rank: Apprentice
2/19/2014 | 11:33:30 PM
Re: Cool read but...
I agree with the "unlimited" catch. They normally will capped your upload and download speed if you exceed their "normal" storage capacity. In my opininion, that range fall between 200GB to 500GB depending on which cloud storage provider are you using.I never buy into unlimited marketing catch. Just buy what you need and that's normally the capacity of your hard drive. Just my two cents.
User Rank: Apprentice
12/9/2013 | 7:40:19 AM
Cloud Storage is not a replacement for Online Backup
If you use cloud storage as your backup method, you are very likely to have a major disappointment in the future.  If you accidentally delete a file, it gets corrupted, or you get a virus, guess what, that is immediately synched to your cloud account.  Very few of these have versioning abilities or file retention periods, so the only thing it protects you against is a total machine crash (even then, only the files you put in their special directory will be protected).

This article really should warn of this - it is a very important distinction.

The only safe way to use cloud storage as your backup is to manually copy files to it, disable all synchronization, and don't directly edit the files kept there.  In fact it is best to keep their software off your PC and use the web version, as a virus can very easily access the "mapped drive" and ruin your backup.

If you want one product to accomplish both tasks - they exist, but you need to carefully review the features (and the settings of the product once installed) to make sure it will save versions of the files and won't automatically delete files unless you approve or a time limit expires (at least 30 days, the more the better).  Of course neither product will accomplish both tasks as well as two separate products would.  This may be one thing where you want to just use two products for two purposes that are really very different.  The online backup programs can backup your cloud storage folder as well (usually) so if someone else messes up your file that you shared, you've got a totally independent backed up copy, or hopefully several versions of it.

If you need one program that does both you're more likely to find a online backup service that features public sharing than a cloud storage one that has full backup/version/retention features for your whole HDD.
User Rank: Apprentice
11/24/2013 | 3:13:13 AM
What about privacy?
I think the article missed the point of online backup service. Online backup software encrypt all files locally with separate key and uploads encrypted (not readable) data so backup provider could not open and read any of his clients files.  Encryption key never uploaded to service provided server.  On other side "cloud storage providers" do not encrypt the data or encrypt and store encryption key online so client can easy sync other computers or get his data online from any device. Use "cloud storage" only if you don't care about privacy and possibility that cloud provider employers or government agents reads your documents.
User Rank: Apprentice
11/20/2013 | 3:22:20 AM
Cool read but...
Good information Larry, and while I do agree  that most "unlimited" services come with a catch, we must not generalize. I have fallen victim to the likes of Carbonite and Crashplan as well, and was about to give up up until I've stumbled upon Zoolz, and while they have unlimited plans, they have also for Buisnesses. I don't know that is just my humble opinion but I'd like to see w hat you think about the service... 
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