Sync, Not Backup

Community Content

syncservicesI’m seeing more and more people embrace what they consider to be ‘The Cloud’ to store their files, be it Dropbox, OneDrive, Google

Drive, Amazon Cloud, or any of the other file syncing services out there. Notice I say file syncing services and not cloud backup services. These services have a lot of value and are very handy; I utilize them for work and personal life for sharing files, collaborating, or syncing across the numerous devices in my life. That being said, they are not backup, and I run separate backup routines to protect important data.

I was at a get-together this weekend and the topic of backup came up. I know it sounds like I go to some really exciting parties, right? But the subject came up because the host’s wife, who is a paralegal, mentioned that she was tasked with figuring out how to get some data off some older SDLT tapes. When the discussion turned to occupations and I mentioned that I work in data-protection, she perked up and instantly asked me about the tapes and how she could get the data off. I helped her with that task, which was no big deal, but her next comment caught my attention. She remarked how she didn’t understand why people still use tapes and backup software and why everyone doesn’t just put everything on Dropbox. The simplest explanation that I could come up with on the spot was reliability, flexibility, and security.

Why Reliability is an Issue

In regards to reliability, a quick search of your favorite file sync service will show accounts of lost files and the inability to recover past versions of files (Cryptolocker anyone?). Yes all software has shortcomings, but these file sync services were never intended to be backup solutions; they were meant for sync’ing and collaborating on files. They typically sync on the write of a new file, which is great when you are talking about a few files at a time and not your entire machine. Unlike these services, backup software that is specifically written to protect your entire machine, show you what is restorable, and verify that each file was backed up successfully, and if not - alert you to the issue. Reliability also means access to your data when you need it. With a file sync service, you don’t have any say on when the service goes down for maintenance, has login issues, locks your account because of an accounting error, your internet goes down, or any other number of issues. With a local backup using backup software, you maintain control of the entire process.

Let’s Talk About Flexibility

File sync services were designed with a purpose, typically collaboration. These services weren’t meant to restore entire machines from the ground up, or recover from a disaster where server hardware failed or a laptop was stolen or destroyed. Most of these file sync services have restrictions on the number of files, number of directories, path length, file names, type of files, and size of files that can be synced to them. In contrast, a solution designed for backup, avoids these limitations. Sync services typically copy files from one device to the cloud destination only. With quality backup software you can backup to multiple types of devices, USB, NAS, Tape, cloud services, and others.

Keeping Security in Mind

The last point I had was security, which lately has become a big concern in regards to data safety and exposure. How sure are you that the service you use isn’t collaborating with whatever government agency is in the news today, is protected from any disgruntled employees, or a hacker that may have obtained access to your account information?

Cryptolocker has opened a lot of people’s eyes as to how important true backups are, and how vulnerable simple file syncing services can be. Keeping your data backed up in a compressed, encrypted format that only you know the encryption key for, can eliminate much of your exposure. Doing multiple backups and keeping backups offsite along with onsite can help you to quickly recover from a ransomware type of situation.

I am not trying to say that file syncing services are bad, they have their place. In fact, I use them often and will continue to use them. Just be aware that you have a file syncing service and not a true backup solution. I’d suggest that you also back up the files you are syncing with these services. Your Dropbox, Onedrive, Google Drive, etc. folders can all typically be backed up using a normal file and image level backup with mostbackup softwareincluding NovaBACKUP.

IT providers interested in becoming a NovaStor reseller partner can sign up here.