Why cloud sync is not backup

Do you back up your data? If you don’t, you may want to consider the sobering statistics that one in three people have suffered data loss, according to the results of a new data protection survey conducted by Acronis with Google Consumer Surveys. The survey looked at 4,000 individuals and found that a sizeable proportion (11%) were willing to pay US$500 or more to recovery lost files, proving just how precious this data is.

In this age of pervasive cloud services, it is unsurprisingly common for users to think that they are protected merely because they have signed up with an online storage service. While using an online storage service to keep files in sync across multiple devices is no doubt highly convenient, the protection value is quite different from that of having a full-fledged backup.

We outline two examples below to underscore why cloud synchronization isn’t actually backup.

Encryption malware

While traditional concerns about data loss tend to revolve around stolen laptops, crashed hard disk drives, or accidentally deleted data, the truth is that malware threats are increasingly a cause for concern. And in case you think that a small city state like Singapore will be ignored by hackers, data from Kaspersky Security Bulletin 2015 placed Singapore as the top country being targeted by banking Trojans.

As it is, there is no question that the rise of ransomware represents the top threat to data loss today. For the uninitiated, ransomware is a type of malicious software designed specifically to block access to the data on a PC until a sum of money is paid. This is achieved by surreptitiously encrypting data files on the infected computer and erasing the original before demanding a payment for the decryption key.

Because this digital key is kept for a finite amount of time at an online location, users may have no recourse but to pay up. Data loss happens when the ransom amount is beyond the victim’s ability to pay, the victim refuses to back down – or something unexpectedly goes wrong during the ransom process.

Mistakes get replicated

Another consideration that many users miss out when using a cloud sync solution would be how mistakes in edits or accidental deletions within documents will get automatically synchronized to the cloud service, including all synchronized devices that are online. Ditto to files that get overwritten by mistake, which even specialized recovery software may have problem recovering.

While some cloud services such as Dropbox for Business is capable of saving an unlimited number of file changes, the capability is usually reserved for business-centric tiers, or may require a separate subscription fee to enable. Others like Microsoft’s OneDrive saves multiple copies of Office documents, but not for non-Office files.

The result is that an average user is often left not knowing if they are truly protected, and if they can recover an earlier, correct version of their document when they need it. Even if the feature is supported, they may also be unsure about how to go about it. So why not just regularly back up their files and be certain?

Acronis is offering a special offer on Acronis True Image for World Backup Day, which you can access here.