The popularization of services like Dropbox and Google Drive has encouraged people to keep a backup copy of their files. But is that enough to keep your data safe?
Online backup and document synchronization are ways to store files in the cloud. However, each is indicated for a specific purpose. Know the main differences and know which service to hire according to your goal.
Cloud Sync allows files to be accessed on all devices – Photo: Playback / Pond5
Backup is nothing more than having a backup copy of your files. This can be done through physical media, on CDs / DVDs or HDs, but also over the Internet, by specific services. The idea is that important documents can be recovered, even when there is a hardware problem, in the system or if the machine (PC or cell phone, for example) is stolen.
File Synchronization (Cloud Sync)
Services like iCloud, Dropbox and OneDrive were not specifically designed for backup, as they are aimed at file synchronization. They can even be used to store data – in fact, it is better than not having any backup copies – but the way they work can bring some inconvenience if the user uses these services as a primary backup.
This is because the saved files need to be in a specific folder and only the documents within this directory go to the cloud. Another factor is synchronization with other devices. It is an excellent way to access data from anywhere, but a bad idea if you accidentally delete the file. If the document is deleted from the folder for any reason, it will be deleted from the server and from all other devices.
Dropbox has a free plan, but charges extra for additional space – Photo: Anna Kellen Bull / dnetc
It is true that most services have a way to recover deleted files. The problem is with the type of restoration. When the system detects a change in the document – any update, for example – it will save this latest version in the cloud. There is a possibility to restore old versions, but this has to be done in one file at a time. Now imagine that the system has been infected with ransomware that encrypted all files in the sync folder. The encrypted data will also be updated to the cloud – which means more work when restoring.
There is also the question of space. All services use a freemium scheme, offering a limited amount of gigabytes to the user – 5 GB on OneDrive, for example. To store more files you need to sign a plan to get extra space. If this total is re-filled, you will need to hire more storage.
Backblaze servers, one of the companies that offer online backup service – Photo: Disclosure / Backblaze
Online backup also stores files in the cloud, but there are some differences in the way you work. If in Cloud Sync the user pays for the space, in this form of storage the charge is made by machine. That is, the space to store the files is unlimited.
In addition, there is no need to put the documents that need to be saved on a specific page. That’s because online backup services software automatically saves all files on your computer, regardless of the directory they are in.
There are also more advanced options for restoring files. Some maintain file update history for up to 30 days. If there is a problem, as in the ransomware situation in the example above, it is possible to download the original file without being encrypted.
- Some online backup services
Backblaze – one of the most popular online backup services. Available for Mac and Windows, it offers unlimited space with plans that start at US $ 5 (about R $ 16) per computer. One of the biggest advantages, besides maintaining the update history, is the possibility of sending a physical media with the backup. With this, the user can choose to receive an HD or pendrive with the stored files at home. This service is paid separately and can be reimbursed after the device is returned to the company.
Carbonite – from US $ 6 (around R $ 20), the user has unlimited backup of computer data in the cloud. There is also protection against accidental file deletion and backup of extra devices, such as a USB stick or external hard drive.
Time Capsule allows you to create a server with backup of system files – Photo: Disclosure / Apple
When to use cloud sync and online backup
Synchronization services are very efficient for saving files. For most users, they will work without problems and have the advantage of allowing access on multiple devices at the same time and at any time. In the near future, sync services are also expected to bring online backup options, something Google already does with Backup and Sync.
However, limited space is a determining factor. For users who keep a lot of files (photos and videos), not worrying about the amount of GBs consumed can make a difference. What’s more, extra restoration options are especially important for those dealing with sensitive documents, such as lawyers and accountants, for example.
For those who need extra layers of protection, redundancy is still the best tip. In addition to online backup, it is always recommended that there is also a physical copy of the files. An interesting option is to invest in an Apple AirPort Time, if you are a Mac user. Through Time Machine, macOS can create a backup copy of the data.
Windows 10 also has a native backup option. Through File History, the user can configure an external hard drive to safely save system data.