Cloud Sync vs Cloud Backup Differences & Suggested Services to use

Today we’re going to talk about the difference between Cloud Sync vs Cloud Backup. Many people aren’t aware of the differences between the two as on the face on things they appear similar yet they aren’t. If you’re uncertain as to which you might need read on. I’ve done my best to try and explain this in as simple terms as possible to make it easy for anybody to understand. I’ve also shared my own personal experience as to why I use Cloud Backup and what led me to start using it.

Cloud Sync vs Cloud Backup

What is Cloud Sync?

Cloud Sync – These services typically work this way, you download client software from the provider which upon installing creates a folder in your main directory where you are to place files you wish to be sync’d to the their cloud storage space. Generally this space is between 5GB & 50GB if using a free service like Dropbox, Google Drive & anything up to 10TB with paid accounts. Then on any computer you wish to have the content synced with you install the same client on and the files will be mirrored. At this point you can add and change files in this folder on any machine associated with the same providers account and each machine will mirror the changes. This is known as Two-way synchronization.

Generally you will work with your files just by dragging and dropping files into the providers folder on your computer. There are other scenarios where you don’t need to sync your files to the machine or device you’re using. In this instance you would use a Web Browser based app (Like when you sign into the dropbox website through a web browser) on a computer that doesn’t have the client installed. This way the files aren’t synced to your computer and you are simply viewing your files which were previously synced to the providers server or uploaded through the web based interface. You can then view them and download them but nothing gets synced to that computer unless the client is installed and running. This is useful when you’re using somebody else’s computer or you don’t have the storage space available to sync the required content to a particular machine but still need to work with the files.

Most of these services have mobile apps available. The mobile apps for these services generally work like network storage, allowing you to view and manage all your files.

To sum up –

Cloud syncing services sync files and folders on your computer to folders on other devices or to the cloud allowing you to have an up to date copy of the files on multiple devices. If you add or change a file on one device all the other devices connected to that same service providers account will receive the changes. If you delete a file that is being sync’d it gets deleted everywhere.

Recommended Service: What is the Best Cloud Storage? Encryption, Streaming, Cross-Platform?

Some examples of Cloud Sync services include pCloud, Sync, Dropbox, OneDrive, iCloud Drive, SugarSync, Box, MEGA, Google Drive. There are many others out there but these are some of the better known ones that dominate the market.

These type of services usually have variable pricing depending on how much space you require or how much data you transfer or what additional features you need. Some of these additional features would include being able to roll back files to earlier copies. Other features like Encryption which protect your files from prying eyes by scrambling the data that is stored on the providers server usually always cost extra and aren’t always included on the free services. Providers like pCloud, Sync & MEGA & iCloud do provide free encryption on their servers.

Why wouldn’t you just use a Syncing service like Dropbox to backup/store all your files? Because you generally won’t have enough space with your provider to store ALL of your user files (Your music folder, Video folder, Documents, content stored on external drives etc). If doing this on multiple machines this can quickly get out of hand and eat up Terabytes of Cloud storage which will be expensive and very slow on a Syncing service. Then there’s the hassle having to manually add all of those folders and then making sure all those files don’t get sync’d to other computers. This can end up consuming Gigabytes of space which those other computers might not have to spare. It’s just not the right tool for the job.

Cloud Backup

What is Cloud Backup?

Cloud Backup – These services do not sync files across computers, they create backups of your user data. These services do their work in the background automatically. There is little to no setup involved and no having to select folders or move files into specific folders. Cloud Backup services automatically back up any new or changed files without any action required on your part. This is known as One-way synchronization. All user data is backed up by default so you don’t need to worry about making sure you remembered to drag a file from your desktop into specific folders like you would with Syncing services like Dropbox.

If you use multiple syncing services like Dropbox, GDrive, One Drive etc, Cloud backup will even back those folders up too (You can manually choose to exclude folders if you want to). If you have a family you can provide that extra layer of security by having each member of the family’s computers automatically backed up in case of disaster and have peace of mind and less headaches.

To sum up –

Cloud backup services are not like Syncing services as they don’t Sync folders between computers. Backup services automatically back up any new or changed files without any action required on your part. All user data is backed up by default so you don’t need to worry about making sure you remembered to drag a file from your desktop into specific folders like you would with Syncing services.

Recommended Service(s): Backblaze – Easiest Cloud Backup for PC & Mac, Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth Or iDrive – Backup unlimited PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPads and Android devices

Some examples of Cloud Backup services include Backblaze, iDrive, Carbonite. There are many others out there but these are some of the better known ones that dominate the market.

Cloud Sync vs Cloud Backup, Do you need both?

To help determine whether you require one or the other or both I thought I’d put forward my own experience to give you an idea.

I have the typical setup of Desktop PC, Laptop PC & Mobile Phone. I see my Desktop as the main location for all my large files and folders like movies, music collections, photo collections, application installation files as my Desktop has the most storage available and is least likely to suffer damage or get lost or stolen like a Laptop or Mobile phone might.

I do my day to day Work on either the Laptop or the Desktop and I use What is the Best Cloud Storage? Encryption, Streaming, Cross-Platform? to sync Work files between the two. This works great and I’ve used this method for years. All my old work files from projects completed months and years ago I store on my Desktop on one of the drives it has which I call the backup drive which is 2TB in size. I store all kinds of things on this backup drive, movies, 50,000+ music tracks, Thousands of personal family photos & videos including my sisters wedding and I had the only copy because I filmed it! (Only photos I share with family or friends generally get moved to pCloud or a Google Drive account so I can give people access to them).

One day a couple of years ago I clicked on my backup drive and it started making this clicking sound and I got a message (Device cannot be accessed). Needless to say I started panicking because of all the content I had on there. I rebooted and this time the drive didn’t even show up in the file manager! The clicking sound had developed an audible noise now too! I knew then the drive had failed and I turned the computer off and disconnected the drive and decided to leave it overnight to see if I could get into it the following day.

The next day upon reattaching the drive and booting up it somehow let me access the drive, albeit with the clicking sound present, I started immediately copying my Work archive and a few photo and video folders and phewww, they were once again safe. I then ordered a new drive because the other drive in my Desktop isn’t big enough to store the Music and Movies I had on the Backup drive. Once it arrived I booted up and started copying my music, the transfer failed after a few 100 songs, damn it. I tried again and again and then the drive became inaccessible again and this time it was dead, I couldn’t get it to be detected regardless of my attempts.

Upon telling one of my friends what had just happened, instead of the sympathetic ear I was expecting I got “You’re an idiot! Who only keeps 1 backup??”. I thought I was doing well to even have a backup drive at all!

Upon asking what he recommended I do he suggested I buy a NAS box, I looked around and most of these are like mini tower cases in which you purchase hard drives to put in it. I didn’t fancy having to power this 24/7 just for old photos and music & video storage plus I had just purchased a new backup drive to replace the dead one! That’s when I started searching for enough Cloud storage to store everything and that’s when I came across Backblaze.

Backblaze is a backup service that automatically backs up all your drives to the cloud with the ability to restore any file at any time as well as access any file when you need to and comes with Backblaze – Easiest Cloud Backup for PC & Mac, Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth for only $5 a month! Needless to say I’ve never looked back.

Did I need to do this when I’d just bought a new backup drive? I think I did as almost losing years worth of personal files was a scary experience and I now have peace of mind knowing that even if my computer was to explode all my files are safe on Backblaze’s servers. Now, not only is my backup drive backed up but I don’t need to worry about moving photos and videos which are to be archived to the backup drive as they are all backed up as soon as they are transferred to my computer.

Cloud Sync vs Cloud Backup, To sum up –

Cloud Syncing services sync selected folders between devices, they aren’t designed for backing up data for the simple fact that if you delete a file on one sync’d machines folder it disappears from all machines. Syncing services are ideal for accessing the same files on multiple computers & devices. Cloud Backup services usually backup your user data automatically without you needing to do anything, data doesn’t get sync’d between computers/devices. Backup services are ideal to protect your data from hardware/software failures or accidental deletion/corruption as you can restore all data from an earlier time.

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