The Case for Backup Over Sync

We hear it all the time: “I don’t need to back up my data, it’s already synced.” But backing up your data and syncing your data are two different animals—only a backup service actually protects all of your data while also making it accessible to you even when you’re away from your computer.

Are you using a sync service like Dropbox or OneDrive without a backup solution? If so, we’ll make the case for why you should use backup over sync, including the Backblaze features you won’t find from a sync service.

Read on for a refresher on the difference between backup and sync, and find out why choosing Backblaze over a sync service could be more beneficial to you.

Review: What’s the Difference Between Backup and Sync?

With the myriad of cloud services available, many people don’t understand the difference between sync and backup. You can read more about the difference between the two services here, but here’s a brief refresher:

  • Sync: These services allow you to access your files across different devices. You can also use sync services to share files with other users, where they can make changes from their computer that will be visible to you from your device.
  • Backup: These services usually work automatically in the background of your computer, backing up a copy of your new or changed data to another location (e.g., the cloud). Most backup services catalog and save the most recent version of your data, and some now offer features like Extended Version History, which you can use to recover files from even farther back in time than the standard 30 days.

Backup Pro Tip: Managing Your Devices

How many devices do you use to store and access your data on a given day? Between phones, tablets, laptops, and external hard drives, it can be a lot. We’ve created a few guides to help you make sure the data on your phone, computer, and hard drive is backed up or secured for whenever you plan to upgrade.

The Disadvantages of Sync Services

While sync tools are great for collaboration and 24/7 access to your data, they are not a viable backup solution and relying on them to protect your data can lead to trouble. If you or someone you shared a file with deletes that file, you are at risk of losing it forever unless the sync service you’re using has a version history feature. Sync services do not create a copy of your files for backup, and require additional setup to make sure you have some data protection enabled.

Data in sync services is also vulnerable to corruption by bad actors or malware as it does not provide a backup of your uncorrupted files. If your computer is hit with a ransomware attack and automatically synchronizes your data afterwards, all of your synced files will be corrupted.

Lastly, many people choose not to pay for a sync service, instead opting to use the free tier. For the most part, the free tiers of sync services have a cap on the amount of data you’re able to sync, meaning there will still be a portion of your data on your computer left unsynced, neither accessible by the service or protected in any capacity. Paying for more data in a sync service can become costly over time, and still does not offer protection against data loss.

The Backblaze Features You Won’t Get With a Sync Service

Sync and backup shouldn’t be thought of as opposing services—they’re better together. However, if your budget only allows for one, backup is the way to go.

Now, hear us out—as a backup provider, we may seem biased, but in reality, the benefits of using a backup service speak for themselves. Here are the Backblaze features you won’t get with a sync service:

  • Automatic, comprehensive data protection: Backblaze protects all of the data on your computer, not just the files in your synced folders. Think about all the things you save on your computer, but not in OneDrive or Dropbox. I imagine that might include important confidential documents like taxes, financial information, or legal documents, or just random stuff that doesn’t get saved to your sync service. With Backblaze, in case of potential data loss, you can find a copy of each of your files saved in the cloud. Also considering how much of our data is scattered across devices and platforms, having a backup of all of your data is valuable to keep it safe in case you can’t access a profile or device for any reason. (Check out our Backup Pro Tip below to learn more about how to back up your digital life.)
  • Fast and easy data restores: In the case that you lose your computer or it crashes and you need to restore all or some of your files, backup services like Backblaze allow you to download the important files you need via your internet connection and opt to have all of your files sent to you via USB hard drive. Meanwhile, downloading your data from a sync service depends on your internet bandwidth and can take days if not weeks. Also, with the Backblaze mobile apps for iOS and Android, all of your backed up data is with you, no matter where you are.
  • Extended Version History: Most backup providers offer version history for all of the data you are backing up. With this feature, you can restore your entire backup history, or just one file, from a specific point in time. Backblaze offers Extended Version History, so you can choose if you’d like to keep all versions of your data protected longer than the standard 30 days for a small additional fee. You can choose to keep versions for up to one year or forever. Not only does this feature provide better security for your data and the ability to restore files in the event of a potential cybersecurity breach, but it also gives you the ability to see changes to your edited files over time, much like with a sync service. Want to invite someone to collaborate on a file you’ve edited? You can even share files with other people by enabling Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage. Learn more about how to share files here, and more about B2 Cloud Storage here. (Note: Some sync services are catching on and starting to offer Extended Version History for customers on business or professional tiers or as add-ons. But, keep in mind, unless you’re on the highest tiers, chances are your storage is capped and you’re paying for extended versions of only some of your files.)
  • Ransomware protection: Another benefit of backup versus sync is protection against cybersecurity threats. In the case of a ransomware attack on your device, you will be able to completely restore your system from a backup that was created before the malware affected your files.
  • The ability to access your data from anywhere: While sync services are promoted as a way to access your files away from your computer, backup providers also allow you to download individual files or entire data backups from another device. Not only does this come in handy when transferring your data or restoring your old settings on an entirely new device, but also in the event that you need to access a file not covered by a sync service. Your data backup will have a copy of every single one of your files that you can access from another computer.
  • Location services: Additionally, some backup providers (Like us!) offer additional features or functionality—for example, location services like Backblaze’s Locate My Computer tool allow you to find a lost or stolen device. If you’re unable to get the device back, or you just need to access a file or folder when you’re away from your device, you can download or view data from a web browser or from the Backblaze mobile app.

Backup Pro Tip: Backing Up Your Digital Life

These days, our data is scattered across many different platforms—including social media, sync services, and more. We’ve gathered a handful of guides to help you protect your content. Read these guides to learn how to download your data and create a backup of it.

Don’t Sync—Back Up Instead

If you’re going to choose one service over the other, a backup service gives you the best of both worlds—you can make sure all of your data stays safe, you can access it from anywhere, and you can restore previous versions of your data whenever you need it. Backblaze Computer Backup let’s you do all of that, for Macs or PCs—learn more about it and download a free 15-day trial.

Do you have a preference for syncing your data vs. backing it up? We’d love to hear what you think in the comments.


About Lora Maslenitsyna

Lora Maslenitsyna was the associate editor at Backblaze. She appreciates developing content that’s helpful, easy to read, and tells a great story. She has experience as a content writer and has previously worked in marketing for arts organizations, universities, and non-profits. Connect with her on LinkedIn.