Understanding the Difference Between Cloud Storage & Backup
If there's one thing about computers and technology that stays the same — it's that they are constantly changing. In the past few years, computer backup and storage have been a popular topic, and more recently, we hear a lot about "the cloud."
If you're confused, you're not alone. The first thing you need to know is what "the cloud" means. In short, the cloud is a set of services and technologies that enable delivery of computing services, such as storage and backup, over the internet in real time and allowing users instant access to data and applications from any device with internet access. It's like having limited use of a super computer out in cyberspace.
The cloud can be used for more than just storage and backup, but for this article we'll stick with those services. First off, if you "move" files or data to an external hard drive or cloud service to free up disk space on your personal computer — that's storage. This means you still have only one copy. If that backup drive or cloud service goes down, you lose your data for good.
Now, if you "copy" files or data to an external drive or cloud service — that's backup. This means you have multiple copies of the same file, so if one becomes corrupt or is destroyed you have another one you can use.
While there are many similarities between storage and backup, their functions are quite different. With storage, you have to upload your files manually or with limited tools, and often have to use special folders. This can be a good option if you need to share files with multiple users or keep several devices in sync. There are free storage services, but once you use up your quote the price structure changes to how much storage you use.
With backup, most of the work is done behind the scenes; your files are automatically backed up, usually when your computer notices that you are not using it. While you can access the files from other devices, its purpose is to save your data in case of a catastrophe. You usually pay one set price for unlimited backup.
In either case, you need to make sure your backup or storage provider has a stellar reputation and have multiple strategies in place to keep your data safe and secure. A good example of cloud storage is Dropbox; a good example of cloud backup is Carbonite.