When I hear people talk about cloud backup, or data backup in general, I always hear a lot of misconceptions. Especially when it comes to uploading files onto the cloud, people don’t always know the implications, or they think they already know everything about it.
Don’t fall into the trap of not questioning the things you read or hear, even in this article. However, here at Cloudwards.net, we are always transparent with regard to the information we provide: cloud backup takes forever, it’s expensive and it’s unreliable.
These are only a few of the different opinions that are out there.
So, we have compiled a list debunking top 10 myths about online backup we gathered from emails and comments of people just like yourself.
Myth #1: Cloud Backup is The Same as Cloud Storage
While I don’t want to discuss semantics in this post, the difference between backup and storage is more than interchangeable terminology. Of course, whenever you back up data, it is stored somewhere on an external HDD, on a DVD, in the cloud and on a server.
When we talk about backup, we are essentially talking about two files. One file is on your machine (the main device), and another is stored somewhere else. This other file is an exact copy of your local file, so that your file can be restored later. If you delete that file from your main device, its copy is likely to be taken out of the backup loop as well.
The backup-service provider might assume that you no longer need that file, and delete it from storage after a certain period. There are, however, providers that will keep files forever Thus serving as an online file storage center without requiring a local copy on your machine.
We strongly advise, though, to never rely on a single source when it comes to important files. So the difference between these two concepts lies in the usage of the files.
Do you want to keep those files on your machine because you need constant access (backup), or do you want to “outsource” them to free up some disk space (storage)? Of course, one might come across a different definition of those terms. If you see things differently, feel free to leave a comment!
Myth #2: Cloud Backup Takes Forever!
Yes, it is true that online backup takes longer than traditional, wired backup (via USB or firewire). Also, online backup greatly depends on your Internet connection speed. For people who still surf the web with a dial-up modem, online backup will be a very tough gum to chew. Fortunately, broadband Internet connections are more commonplace then ever before.
Therefore, data can be transferred quicker over the Internet. Normally, you can expect to upload between one and three gigabytes per day. But beware: some providers might include bandwidth caps, which will slow your connection down after a couple of gigabytes. Even with broadband, it could take weeks to get data backed up.
The good part is that everything happens in the background, so that you’ll hardly notice.
Myth #3: Cloud Backup is Expensive
Back in the early 2000s, online backup was an option only for businesses that wanted an extra security layer for their data. Storing just a couple of gigabytes online would cost hundreds of dollars, making this option unaffordable for the consumer. Luckily, things have changed; storage prices plummeted, and so did the price for online backup.
True, $5 per month per computer can add up. But ask yourself, how much your data is really worth? Online backup is like insurance: pay a monthly fee even though you hope never have to use it. But the fees of online backup, in comparison with those of life or health insurance, are ridiculously low. And if your hard drive fails, you’ll be happy to have invested a couple of bucks a month.
So ask yourself, what is your data worth to you? What price are you willing to pay to be able to retrieve digital memories, like photos and videos? It is about putting things into perspective, and by so doing, $5 per month doesn’t seem so expensive after all.
Myth #4: All Cloud Backup Services Offer The Same Thing
Online backup and syncing services come and go almost on a daily basis. Whenever a new provider comes around, we ask ourselves, do we need to provide a review of that service or not? If the service can provide significantly new value to the consumer, we are more than inclined to review that service.
However, many times “new” services only rehash the features already established by bigger and better players. So this misconception is quite legitimate: All services provide the same set of features. While there are a lot of crossovers (in terms of features), there are also quite a lot of differences.
As a consumer, you might sometimes find these differences hard to see. The best way is to compare the different features is side-by-side, on our comparison chart.
Some services offer file sync, while others provide unlimited storage. Some may allow you to backup social media files, while others will let you find a computer if it is lost or stolen. Carefully evaluate which features you need, and then decide on which service is best (for you personally).
Myth #5: File Sync is The Same as Backup
If you’ve made it to myth #5, you probably know that identifying the exact meaning of the conventional names used is not easy at all. Many people think that a file sync service is equivalent to a backup service.
Yes, it is true some companies combine file sync and backup (for which you’ll have to pay a higher monthly fee). File sync is very expensive and hard to make good. Here’s why: files need to be made available across all devices you connect, versioning is crucial for occasional d’oh moments and security is of utmost importance, and local encryption is a difficult business.
Backup is not easy either. But it can be made cheaper. We’ve seen above that storage prices are likely to go down even further in the future, which is good for consumers that need to pay less for both backup and sync.
Myth #6: One Backup is Enough
This is what we hear all the time: “Hey, I have backed up all my files to XX. Now I’m fine, right?” Well…not really. One backup is clearly not enough. You need at least one local backup and one backup in the cloud to have decent protection against data loss.
The first and probably easiest step is to backup files locally on an external hard drive.
But don’t let that (false) sense of security fool you. You need another backup method to get your files safe. Some might call us paranoid, but we actually have at least three (if not four) backups. Redundancy is good!
Myth #7: You Can Do it All Alone
Many online backup services want you to believe that backup is an easy task. In some cases this might be true. But every backup scenario is different and might require additional, individual analysis.
Many people fall into the trap of thinking they just have to sign up for a service and that’s it.
They think it can be all alone. Especially for entrepreneurs or people who make a living with their PCs, this could be a lethal mistake to their business and financial situation. If you need help with your backups, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Myth #8: It takes Ages to Get Data Back.
We’ve already seen in myth #2 that an initial online backup might take a while to complete, depending on your internet connection and a few other factors. But what about when you really need that data back? How long does that take? Again, the answer is “it depends.”
It depends on how much data needs to be restored. Do you want to do a full restore of over a terabyte of data? If yes, it might take longer to get all your files down to your machine. That’s why we recommend always having a current local backup at hand for when things go awry.
Some services (such as IDrive) overnight you an external hard drive with your data on it—at additional cost. Online backup makes a lot of sense for quick partial restores. Many providers have a search function that allow you to go through a backup stack and pick only the files needed right then.
That will save you a lot of time, and on a quiet Sunday you can resume restoring all the remaining files.
Myth #9: Cloud Backup is Insecure.
Security is a tough question because everybody’s needs are different. For example, if you’re the owner of a small company, security might be of more concern to you than to Aunt Jane, who needs to back up only a couple of photos of her grandchild’s first nativity play. But businesses are not the only ones that should worry about security.
What about contracts or passwords stored on a computer? Or other files that you want nobody else to have access to? The appropriate response to this myth is again “it depends.” Some online backup services have very high standards in terms of security.
You can have a look at our Annual Security Awards to see the winners of the year. We think it is crucial that your online backup service encrypts data locally and on your machine– before sending it out. Obviously, when sending files over the Internet, the service should use an SSL connection between you and the server.
Ideally, it should add another layer of security by encrypting your files again, this time on its server. One thing is for sure: It is more likely your files will be corrupted at home than on the server of a trusted online backup service.
Myth #10: I Backed Up Twice; Now Everything’s Alright!
Well, aren’t you’re a good student! You have two backups, and those are more than what 95% of people have. Therefore ensured your best protection against computer failure. But unfortunately, you’re not done yet (5% remaining).
Many people setup their backup and even monitor upload speeds, etc. While all these steps are important too, most people forget one crucial thing: a backup is only as good as the restore. That’s why we recommend performing test restores at least once a month (ideally, even more often) if your data is crucial to a financial situation.
The best thing is to setup a calendar reminder to a day on a weekend and test your restore thoroughly.
We hope we have clarified a lot of things related to cloud backup. Now, it is time to get your files backed up.
Please share with us the top misconceptions you, your friends or clients have about online backup.