Confused About the Cloud? You're Not Alone [Infographic]

by Lynnette Nolan | Jul 16, 2012

Do you remember when you got your first computer? Chances are you purchased one to dabble in email, play games, browse the internet (when your phone line was free) and use a word processor. Today, our lives are on our computers, virtually speaking. Our entertainment, financial records, family photos and everything we need to do our jobs are made available to us by a small machine that at times can be quite temperamental. We know we should be protecting ourselves against losing data — whether by theft, hard drive failures, disasters or a simple wayward click of the mouse —but figuring out the best way to protect ourselves can be overwhelming.

The rise of cloud computing has given us many options when it comes to storing and accessing our data, including online backup, syncing and storage. But, backup, syncing and storage are designed to meet different needs. And, as Carbonite found in a recent survey, most Americans are confused by all the cloud offerings that promise to backup, sync or store their data, and only 1/3 understand that backup is the most effective method for protecting data.  So let’s take a look at these services and cut through the cloud confusion.

Online backup automatically makes current and continual copies of your files and stores these copies separate from your computer system in the cloud. With online backup, if anything happens to your original files, you don’t need to worry, because you can restore your content easily. Online backup providers that offer remote access (like Carbonite!) also ensure that all your files can be accessed anytime, anywhere — from a computer, mobile device or tablet.

Storage merely provides space for users to manually select files to save in the cloud, essentially extending your computer storage versus keeping a second copy of your data. Storage providers generally lack automatic service and it can be a cumbersome process to choose each and every file you want to store a copy of. Plus, if you’re away from your computer or your hard drive crashes, you’ll only be able to access those specific files you have manually saved in the cloud.

Syncing copies specific files or folders from your computer to the cloud and to your other devices. They usually offer a small amount of storage – say, 2GBs – for free.  If you need more than that, you may have to pay about $10-20 per month depending on the service, or you’ll likely need to manage your data limits. The files you manually select will be available on your other devices, but the files you haven’t selected– whether due to space limitations or your choice – won’t be available remotely or backed up anywhere.

Why does it matter that consumers understand these options? Fifty-one percent of Americans have experienced a computer crash where they lost everything, and people relying on basic storage and syncing providers aren’t protected against that kind of complete data loss. Online backup is the only way to ensure all your files are backed up, accessible and easily recovered in case the worst does happen.