Online Backup vs Cloud Storage: Understanding the Difference

Online Backup vs Cloud Storage

Many consumers believe that online storage and online backup are synonymous. When comparing Online Backup vs Cloud Storage options, the truth is a little different.

If your goal is to have a backup copy of your data online, online storage services do not justify your backup requirements. In this article, we explain online backup vs cloud storage to help clear up any confusion.

What is the purpose of Cloud Storage and Online Backup solutions?

To grasp why cloud storage and online backup are two distinct parts, you must first comprehend the primary objective of these services.

See also: Pros and Cons of Cloud Storage: Is Cloud Storage right for your data?

Online or cloud storage solutions (such as Dropbox, OneDrive, and Google Drive) are designed to give remote data access, a mobile app, and easy sharing. This means that they have tailored their services to three key elements: online storage, anytime access from various devices, and simple sharing.

You can see on the websites of these providers that they only focus on the three functions mentioned above.

Online backup services (such as IDrive and Carbonite Safe) are designed to enable automated and continuous cloud backup of your data.

These services provide backup-specific features such as unlimited online backups, top-tier security, automation, file syncing, and others.

Most of these services install backup software on your computer, which automatically detects and uploads data to the cloud without requiring you to do anything.

As a result, unlike online or cloud storage services, which need you to put data in the cloud manually, online backup services use automatic methods.

Why can’t Cloud Storage Services be used for Backups?

Because online storage saves data in the cloud and online backup also stores data in the cloud, why can’t cloud storage services be utilized for backups?

This is a simple question that you may be considering. While both systems permit users to store data in the cloud, cloud storage is not intended for backup.

The following are the four primary reasons that support the claim:


If you choose online storage services with the primary goal of having a copy of your files and folders online, the per Gigabyte cost will be more than the cost of unlimited storage space in the case of online backup services. Online storage providers typically offer free storage space, but you will have to pay for more storage.

On the other hand, an online backup solution offers unlimited backup space at a fraction of the cost.

Furthermore, many online backup services offer a 30-day trial run of their services so that you may be confident you’ve chosen the proper backup solution.

Limited Storage Space

It may seem strange, but most online storage providers provide limited storage space.

Dropbox, for example, offers 2TB of storage for $9.99 per month. So, if you wish to retain file versions or have enormous videos to store, the limited storage space won’t help you much.

Furthermore, some services have other constraints, such as file size and the amount of data you can upload at specified times.

Many online backup providers, although not all, offer limitless storage capacity for an unlimited number of backups.

There is no such thing as a file size limit. They intelligently backup your computer’s data to the cloud.

Consequently, you never have to worry about cloud storage space and may take advantage of extra features such as synchronization services, deleted files, temporary storage, and so on.


Nobody wants their cloud-stored data to be jeopardized in the face of increased concerns about cyber-attacks and data breaches. As a result, encryption is the key in today’s world.

Because online storage services are designed for easy access and sharing, their data security isn’t the best. The bulk of such services, for example, encrypt data stored on their servers but do not support local encryption on the computer before syncing with the cloud.

Cloud backup services, on the other hand, offer a double layer of security.

They encrypt your data with a private key (unique to your data) before syncing it to the cloud in their encrypted servers. As such, it is nearly impossible for hackers to gain access to and decrypt your data. Because the encryption keys are unique to each user, no one else can access the backed-up data.

Ease of Use

Undoubtedly cloud storage services provide an easy-to-use and user-friendly interface with feature-rich services. Still, most services fall short when it comes to delivering automated file syncing.

You must manually move data from local storage to the cloud, as well as allocate folders. Because their primary purpose is to allow remote access and sharing, they are not interested in automatic transferring.

If backing up your locally stored data is your primary goal, you should select online backup services because they are more geared toward this purpose.

You will have continuous and automated backups, and you will not even have to tell the provider what data you want to be saved.

Furthermore, you will receive a speedy and efficient data restoration service, as well as a duplicate of your backed-up data on an external hard drive.

Online Backup vs Cloud Storage: Should you choose Online Storage or Online Backup?

While cloud or online storage services are not ideal for data backups, the opposite is also true.

Since online backup services are not intended for collaboration, they do not provide the same level of PC and mobile device accessibility as online storage services.

If your primary goal is to have centralized remote data storage with easy sharing and collaboration capabilities, you should consider using online storage services.

However, if you want to periodically secure your vital information automatically to avoid losing them in the event of a data disaster, online backup services are the ideal option.

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