Sync, Restore, Backup, Store? What’s what?
There’s a clear separation in services being provided in the cloud.
You’ve got your cloud backup/restore type services like CrashPlan, SugarSync and Mozy and then there’s clearly a simpler, often more effective, offering of ‘sync ‘n store’ type services like DropBox, the new SkyDrive and the even newer Google Drive.
Cloud Backup & Restore Services
Personally, I use both and for different reasons. I use CrashPlan Central to well plan for a crash I guess.
It serves only as a cloud backup constantly sending my modified files to some far off data centre stored safely (hopefully) for a time when I need them most.
It’s flexible in that I can choose exactly what I want to backup and when I want it to backup. I can control versioning, file retention, encryption, bandwidth, etc, etc.
And actually, I have recently used CrashPlan to restore data but not because of some hard disk crash or meltdown but actually related to the downloads I provide on this website.
You see, I used to use megaupload to host my file downloads but then of course they got shafted and shutdown without notice and I found myself with a load of broken links & of course very unhappy readers.
Turns out I had also deleted all of the original files from my hard disk (possibly unintentionally and more than a year ago) and didn’t know what to do…enter CrashPlan.
A quick search through the CrashPlan GUI and up popped several versions of all the files I was missing. Restored in minutes – no more broken links, happy readers.
Sync ‘n Store Services
Then there’s what I call the ‘sync & store’ services; I’m separating these into a new ‘genre’ because they’re aren’t really a true backup/restore service.
Yes, some of them offer huge storage and some offer versioning and so forth but for the most part the likes of DropBox, SkyDrive and Google Drive simply aren’t flexible enough to be a true backup service.
Essentially, if you can imagine your ‘My Documents’ folder synced to the cloud and back down to another PC in perfect harmony, then this is it.
A single folder (with sub-folders if you wish) which syncs to a far off data center is these 3 services in it’s most simplest form.
They do however have advantages over backup/restore type services.
For one, they’re extremely quick and efficient at syncing the files so by the time you copy a file into your DropBox it will probably have synced up to the cloud and back down to any other devices before you can get to that other device.
It’s that quick.
And then there’s online services that take advantage of ‘sync & store’ such as Office Live and Google Docs.
Yes, convenient but will they ever replace desktop clients such as the bloatware version of MS Office?
Not sure, but never say never.
It’s a unique situation in that there’s a natural separation of services occurring, quite the opposite of times past where consolidation was the buzz word. Is it a sign of things to come?