As you go about comparing cloud storage solutions and providers, you are bound to run into a slew of confusing terms that might be misleading in your decision-making process. There are three terms in particular that you will run into on a regular basis: cloud storage, cloud backup, and sync. Clearing up the meaning behind each of these terms is important as you compare different services and try to decide what type of cloud computing and cloud storage platform you want to use.
While the terms are interrelated, they are not interchangeable terms. Cloud storage is the service that providers like DropBox, OneDrive, Google Drive, Apple iCloud, and Amazon Cloud Drive offer. You can upload files and photos from one device to these cloud storage services. It is held in one central, virtual location that you can access from any device no matter where you are. As long as you can get on the internet, you can access these files in cloud storage.
In a typical backup scenario, you save your files to a thumb drive or the hard drive on a device such as your laptop. Now, let’s say on a business trip you spill coffee on the laptop or it is stolen from your hotel room. Any files on that laptop that were not uploaded to a cloud storage platform are now lost. Likewise, if you lose the thumb drive but retain your laptop, those files not uploaded to the cloud are now lost.
Cloud backup can help avoid this by making copies of your files and ensuring that continuous backup of your files occurs. This doesn’t mean that the service automatically pulls all of your files and uploads them to a cloud storage folder for you. Rather, cloud backup means that while you are working on a file through an application, the cloud backup service will save your changes as you go and do its best to maintain the most-recent version of the file. In this case, if you lose your laptop or thumb drive, you can get on another device and download your files.
Finally, syncing is simply the act of sharing content across a cloud storage platform. For example, you can use Google Drive to upload a variety of Word files and then allow other users to access those files. Any changes they might make to the files are saved and synced, allowing you to then access that altered file.