Data Storage vs. Data Backup
Storing your data online is making use of what is called the cloud. Think of it as having all your data floating above you, with the ability to access it at anytime from anywhere. A lot of home users and businesses now take advantage of cloud storage, of which there are two types: data storage and data backup services. There are differences between the two which are useful to know, but a lot of services will offer a combination of both.
Data storage services are there to hold your personal files like documents, images and music. There a wide range of companies that offers such services, like Dropbox or SkyDrive from Microsoft. You simply need to create an account on the website or program and then upload your files. You will then be able to access the files remotely from any computer with an internet access and download the files you uploaded. Files can be synced to the cloud from any computer. A lot of the popular services also offer mobile and tablet applications for you to download. They also offer the ability to edit your sharing settings on individual files or folders. For example, if you were collaborating on a project with a co-worker then you could share a specific file with them and they could sync their changes back to the cloud. It makes for a much smoother experience than emailing files back and forth.
The biggest difference between data storage and data backup is that the latter offers an automated process of moving files to the cloud. This is different to data storage which usually relies on using the service’s website or application to upload selected files. As such, making changes to the remote file on your computer will not be reflected in the cloud unless you manually upload the more recent version of the file.
With data backup, your files will be automatically synced to the cloud at regular intervals. Some programs will run in the background at all times and update the cloud whenever a change is made to a file. This saves on computer resources, rather than simply backing up every file even if nothing has changed. Another good feature that the online backup offers is the ability to restore your files if they are deleted or your computer crashes. Some online backup services will even store copies of files that you have deleted for a set amount of days, allowing you to recover them if you decide you need them back. Programs like Backblaze and LiveDrive offer something called mirror image, which is when it takes a complete copy of your computer to make it simpler to recover from a disastrous computer crash.
You will need to decide whether or not you want to use cloud storage for storing a select number of files or as a viable backup solution. Most cloud storage services will offer a small amount of storage space for free (SkyDrive offers 7 GB, for example), but if you want to back up your whole system then you will undoubtedly need to investigate their pricing plans.
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