Cloud storage vs. cloud backup: What’s the difference?

  • The terms “cloud backup” and “cloud storage” are often used interchangeably, leading to confusion about their distinct roles and functionalities.
  • Cloud backup prioritises data protection and recovery, making it essential for safeguarding critical business data and ensuring continuity in the face of unforeseen disasters.
  • On the other hand, cloud storage provides a versatile platform for storing, accessing, and sharing files, facilitating collaboration and remote work.

Cloud storage and cloud backup may sound like the same thing, but they are different.

Cloud backup refers to tools that protect your data, files and system from a catastrophic event like ransomware or theft. Cloud storage refers to tools that let you free up space on your device by having copies of some files saved to the cloud.

Simply put, cloud storage services do not provide comprehensive protection or the same peace of mind that cloud backup services offer.

Let’s dive deeper to understand the differences between cloud terms like cloud storage and cloud backup.

Also read: Could AI replace cloud computing?

What is cloud storage and how does it work?

Cloud storage offers the convenience of storing files, photos, and videos in a centralised location accessible from any device, with the added benefit of easy file sharing and syncing. However, it’s essential to understand that cloud storage is not synonymous with backup.

In the event of data loss, such as a computer crash or theft, relying solely on cloud storage without regularly updating files could result in losing any data not manually uploaded. Even with file sync enabled, if a file is deleted or infected with malware on one device, the changes will reflect across all synced devices. Additionally, cloud storage may not cover all types of data loss; while photos saved to the cloud may be recoverable, documents could be lost indefinitely.

This is where cloud backup services come into play.

Also read: Cloud computing and IoT: How do they work together?

What is cloud backup and how does it work?

Cloud backup – also known as online backup — is specifically designed for making copies of your files and ensures continuous backup and offers an easy way to restore your files.

Backup services offer file versioning, which means in the event of data loss – say, your computer gets infected with ransomware – you will be able to recover a clean version of your file from a point in time before your system became infected.

Key differences

Cloud storage complements your local storage by providing easier access and editing of files across multiple devices. On the other hand, cloud backup is specifically designed to restore files in case of data loss.

With cloud storage, you manually select which files to store in the cloud, whereas cloud backup services automatically save and sync files from your computer.

Cloud backup providers prioritise data security, typically encrypting files during transfer and storage. However, many cloud storage services only encrypt files on the server side, potentially compromising the security of data during transfer.


Aria Jiang

Aria Jiang, an intern reporter at BTW media dedicated in IT infrastructure. She graduated from Ningbo Tech University. Send tips to

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