What’s the Difference Between Online Backup & Cloud Storage Services?

Cloud StorageIs it cloud storage? Is it an online backup service? Which is it that you’re looking at? These are the questions that people often ask themselves when they are trying to decide on the best solutions for storing data to the cloud. It can get tricky because, just like any other market, all companies want their product to look like the very best one. However, depending on how you use cloud storage and maybe more importantly, why you want to use it, you may need online backup instead of cloud storage. Or this could be reversed. No one’s got all the answers for you personally, but with the right facts you can find those answers for yourself. That’s what we want to provide you with right now.

You see, there are differences between online backup and proper cloud storage services. Each has something a bit different to offer and each attracts a slightly different user base. With this in mind, we are going to explore both of these so you know what they are, what they offer and why you might want to consider choosing them. It should make your life a whole lot easier when it comes to choosing the right online file storage solution for your needs.

Online Backup: The Classic Solution

Long before the term cloud storage was getting used by companies, there were already what are called online backup services. These are very similar to cloud storage, but they are different, too. The purpose of these services is to give you a way to save your files to a remote hard drive and then restore them if you should ever need to do that. This is what they do and this is more or less all they do. It’s a straight forward offer and it works for a lot of consumers. Mozy is one name that you might know of which offers this kind of service and Carbonite happens to be another. In fact, it’s been a key player in the online backup sector according to a recent post in Byte from editorial director Larry Seltzer who reminds us:

Carbonite was big enough to get itself preloaded on many OEM Windows systems and became the most famous of the online services.

This helped that service get known and, as a consequence, it familiarized a lot of people with what online backup had to offer. These services are generally going to offer smaller, cheaper amounts of space so if you have hundreds of gigs worth of documents, videos, photos or software you want backed up then this might not be the right choice for you. You’ll generally just be backing up the most important portion of your data and that’s it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it is all some people will need, but if you need more coverage then look lower because we’re entering real cloud territory now.

Cloud Storage: The Comprehensive Solution

These services have more to offer and that’s often why they get chosen over plain old online backup. Synchronization is one key benefit that cloud storage services offer, but it’s just one. Seltzer explains that these services actually have quite a few advantages they can offer you:

These services take a portion of your hard drive and synchronize it with the online storage. Make changes on the hard disk and they are quickly replicated to the cloud storage. If you have other systems on the account, the files are synchronized down to them. And so as you work on your files they are automatically backed up.

Now, with services like SkyDrive from Microsoft or the ever popular Dropbox, you are getting a lot more features. Does this cost more than a backup only service? Generally speaking, it does, and there are some backup services which will let you have ‘unlimited‘ space. That sounds great, but we all know there’s no free lunch and that we need to be aware of details. Seltzer looked deeper at Carbonite, which advertises ability to handle some massive backups, and discovered this:

Carbonite says only that ‘…for exceptionally large backups — 200GB or more — backup speed will slow noticeably after the first 200GBs have been backed up.’

That’s definitely the kind of caveat you want to pay attention to and watch out for. Maybe a slower backup speed won’t matter for you personally, but if it does then you may need a different solution. The whole goal here is to find what is going to meet your needs as closely as possible. As long as you’re aware of the limitations (and advantages) of any service you decide to subscribe to, then you’ve done all you could to find the best and are very likely to end up happy with your choice. Millions of people are already delighted by the services they’re subscribed to.

So Which is Right for You?

After you know the details of the differences between cloud storage services and online backup services, it all comes down to personal preference. Some people want something low cost and simple so online backup is going to be the perfect fit for them. Other people want a more sophisticated service and they will happily pay more to make sure they get it. Whichever way you go, there is no wrong answer. The only thing that really matters is that you are delighted by the service you are receiving and you feel the offer’s fair. After all, the main time we notice how much we love our backup and storage services is when something unexpected and unpleasant happens. For this reason, try not to wait around if you have things you want to protect, we recommend you give Just Cloud a try as they fill most needs.

Are you currently using either of these types of services? Do you have a personal preference or opinion about either of them? We would definitely love to hear from you so we encourage you to leave a comment below and let your side of the story be told. If you’ve got questions, we’re happy to provide the best answers we can so be sure to ask through a comment, as well.

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. Good evening all,
    As I’m getting ready for a trip to Europeand be on the roads 7/7 also having experienced the problem of mobile telephon e coverage I thouhgt for a moment “a mobile computer or a tablet would solve ,I think a big part of the coverage but I see ,it’smore dificult yhan buyin an automobilecause I want to be sure that Ican communicate with the comp mor freeely,when ever i have to use itnot like the mobile phone..
    pleasecan you guide me on what to look forwhat should i i ask to ad and be installed parts to for exemple some little gadget to increase the reception of the towers signals..Any help would be appreciated thanks

  2. I prefer Cloud Storage than Online back-up service since you can access it anywhere and anytime in any devices, the synchronization capability is a great feature of Cloud Storage Service. I am using Dropbox, Skydrive and Google Drive however they are not premiums, Skydrive offers 7GB of free space, Google Drive is 5GB while Dropbox offers 2GB of space only for free but will increase if you will bring new user or go premium (of course hahhaa).

  3. WeenieDog says:

    Cloud drive has the advantage of not eating up a lot of space on your computer’s hard drive. If you aren’t syncing your hard drive with the cloud, everything resides on the cloud. That is fine until your internet access goes out or you take your laptop somewhere without wifi (or wifi with a password you don’t have) and you can’t get to your data. Yes, those places still exist. Another advantage is that cloud drives can be accessed from any computer with web access, so if you want to use the same data on multiple computers in multiple locations, this may be the perfect solution.

    On the other hand, if you are backing up your hard drive, you still have all your data on your computer’s hard drive. i have lots of data that I use many places on my laptop, so my ability to function is greatly impaired by using cloud drives. Having thought this through here, I am probably going to switch over to a backup service.

  4. Thomas Raymond Kissinger says:

    I had a hard drive failure and was backed up with Carbonite. I did not lose any data, but it took two days to restore the data. It was slow the the extreme.

  5. Wonderful work!