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Grow Your Business Technology

What Is Cloud Backup?

cloud backup Credit: alexmillos | Shutterstock

Cloud backup, also referred to as cloud computer backup, refers to the backing up of data to a remote cloud-based server. In a sense, it works as a form of cloud storage, allowing you to store and access data from multiple distributed and connected server resources that make up a cloud environment.

At its most basic level, cloud backup allows organizations and individuals to store data from their computers in a cloud setting rather than locally on a disk or network drive. These files can thus be accessed and stored from any machine at home or at work by simply accessing the storage location remotely through a client login application, typically in the form of a web browser session.

Online backup systems typically rely on a client software application to be installed on an individual computer. The use of this application allows for scheduled backups to occur, though files can individually be uploaded via web client.

The main benefit behind a cloud backup is that you can restore old files that may have been lost on a computer. In the event of hardware failure or a software wipe on a personal computer, you need only access the cloud backup and restore any files stored there. These backups can be created by individually selecting files for online storage, or you can set up a scheduled backup event, or cloud sync, to occur. What this entails is that during scheduled intervals, the cloud service will back up all files in the specified folders and store them remotely. You can select options to overwrite previous backups or create a new backup to ensure multiple redundancies in the event of data corruption.

Cloud syncing is a very popular solution due simply to the security it provides users' data. If you're set up for daily backups, you can schedule the event to occur overnight while you’re out of the office. During the backup, the client application collects, compresses, encrypts and transfers data to the service provider's servers. Due to the amount of bandwidth a daily backup of this magnitude could take, most service providers will only give incremental backups after an initial full backup. What this means is it’ll track for any changes to the files selected for backup and transfer any newly changed data.

Cloud backup services appeal most to small offices and home use due to the convenience it provides. It saves these individuals on the expense of in-house software and can be set up to run "dark," or automatically without manual intervention. Smaller companies typically store less information and can more easily restore data in the event of a computer failure. And in cases when maintaining an IT staff is difficult or financially impossible to achieve, this solution provides a low-cost alternative to creating an in-house network and backup procedure.

At the enterprise level, however, large companies typically use cloud backup services to archive noncritical data only. Traditional backup solutions prove to be more reliable for critical data and require a very short recovery time in comparison to cloud backup. Cloud backup puts physical limitations on how much data can be moved at a given time, whereas traditional backups can be transmitted at much faster rates. With cloud backups, in the event of a large data recovery, it may need to be shipped via a portable storage device.

Services like ZipCloud, SugarSync and SafeSync provide a wide range of services for a low monthly rate. This includes everything from file archiving and versioning to unlimited storage capabilities to file management.