The Difference Between Online Storage and Online Backup

The Difference Between Online Storage and Online Backup

The managed services industry often throws up terminology and acronyms that, while logically should be different, essentially mean the same thing. It is a problem caused by technologically savvy and marketing men arguing over the best way to describe a concept or sell a service. As a result, a multitude of descriptions find their way onto the internet and into the minds of their target customers who struggle to differentiate. A popular example is the 'cloud' moniker. In the UK we first knew it as 'SaaS' (Software as a Service) but the salesman in the US deemed 'cloud' catchier.

One confusion that appear regularly, however, is whether there is a difference between online storage and online backup or are they referring to the same thing? In this instance, there is a difference.

Online Storage

The online storage service industry has boomed in popularity over the last few years. There has been a mass influx of start-up companies offering low-cost or free services to individuals and companies who have data they would like to store offsite. In layman's terms, online storage is the process of using rented server space as an external hard-drive. That external hard-drive will be located in a data centre somewhere - often the US.

A user accesses their rented external hard-drive using the internet and can transfer files and folders between their computer and the storage drive by drag-and-drop. The reason that online storage is so cheap is their simplistic design, functionality and support. The process is little more than transferring your data between different folders on your desktop, except the folder you are transferring to exists on a different machine.

Online Backup

While the transfer processes involved in online backup are similar to that of online storage, there are several key differences in the technology. The main difference is the generation of versions of data. With online storage a user is basically transferring files from one folder to another - often overwriting previous stored data. Online backup differs in that it allows users to create multiple copies of their data from different points in time.

This process of creating 'versions' of files gives users the option of 'rolling back' to an older file version that they might need - thus ensuring bad data isn't saved over good data. Additionally, online backup is more secure in the both the transfer and storage of data, offers automatic backup functionality and helps companies meet security compliance guidelines.

Online Storage or Online Backup?

Although the cloud technologies used in both online storage and online backup are similar, the mechanics and purpose of each are quite different. If you are considering using either, make sure sure you pick the technology that fits your purpose. If you just need to store static files that are not of a sensitive or business nature then an online storage service is for you. If you have important documents that are critical to a business or venture then choose an online backup service - it is more secure, automated, reliable and compliant. 

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