What’s the difference between File sharing and Backups? A simple guide

What’s the difference between File sharing and Backups?

Backup means making a copy of your data away from the primary place of data creation. Files Sharing on the other hand, works by distributing or providing access to data such as Multimedia, Documents or E-books, Computer programs, etc.

Sounds Simple, Right?

While both manages data, but their business functions are different. The goal for file share is sharing and accessing data online very efficiently & smoothly. Whereas, Backups goal is more towards providing enhanced protection against data loss.

Yet, there are misconceptions regarding the same.

For a file-sharing system, you can subscribe to any of the service providers Like Google drive, One-drive, Workdocs, etc. to create multiple users like an Active Directory giving them their logins & permissions and share the data on these.

"At Ace Data we practice this internally when we want to share our data with other users using One-drive available in the default Office 365 subscription"

You can share your data even with users outside your organization or your domain. Especially for small organizations, this is a very useful way of collaborating and sharing data on projects with other team members.

I met a CA firm a couple of months ago who was struggling with the fact that it had many end-users in the central office along with remote customer site locations. They finish their work and find it difficult to email the reports to their Head Office. Even if they do, someone then must segregate & search the emails to find out the data for the respective project & the date. They said it becomes more difficult when the respective team member is either on leave or has left the organization.

File sharing tools are not exactly backup tools. Rather, you may consider or partially use them as backup destinations.

Advantages of File Sharing

  • More durable than storing the data on local disks. The data centers provide utmost security and redundancy to keep your data safe
  • Creating files remotely is a good option especially when you need to share them

Limitations of File Sharing

  • Uploading Data is a manual task
  • Needs resources
  • Requires internet connection 24 x 7
  • The limited scope of data protection in the service providers SLA, they retain deleted files for a specific period and while you can retain multiple versions of your files, the no. of versions is limited

A true backup means making copies of your data away from the primary place of data creation. It also offers much more protection than simply creating or storing data on a file-sharing tool.

Business alignment of a backup solution 

  1. All data cannot be created on these shared folders. Users tend to keep incomplete data separately as they don’t want to share it till it is complete. This could be a reasonably long period of a week or even more. You need to have a backup of this data being created separately. If this is lost, the final data would never get created
  2. What if the user leaves the organization during this period or even otherwise without uploading the data? There is nothing on shared folder so there is nothing protected. Backup software will capture and backup this data automatically in the background
  3. A lot of data comes around from other sources. Ex.: email attachments, copying from other users. Not everything is immediately uploaded on the shared drive. Backup software will backup this data automatically
  4. Uploading to most of the share drives is manual. It is not a very difficult process as you only need to copy-paste it but that is manual. A backup tool will run automatically at a schedule (multiple per day also possible) to backup the new data to the cloud
  5. You can retain some versions of your files but not all. Compliance demands retaining multiple versions with respective time stamps. Ex.: retain a file for 1 year. You need to maintain a backup strategy to retain your data as per the compliance policies
  6. What if the user deletes a file uploaded on these shares? There could be malicious intent while leaving the organization. You would get logs on who deleted what & when but not the data. Most service providers retain deleted files for 15-30 days only so if it is a slightly inactive project, you end up losing your data. Backup software can be configured to allow data to get backed up automatically on schedule while restricting a user to be able to delete the backup of even a single file or version. In our backup service, deleting a backup or even changing its retention policy is controlled by Multi-Factor Authentication

Therefore, using a backup solution alongside file sharing drives can place you in better business alignment.

Now, we have a daily copy with us on the cloud without user intervention. No data loss and administrator has control over all the data created. Project team members & managers can access shared data as well.

The only thing where backups are not as good as file sharing is that to access a backed-up file, you need to restore it. Backed up files are not stored in native formats and not everyone can access or even restore anyone else’s files.

This is not a limitation or a complication. Backups are meant to keep your data safe & protected.

Both these methodologies have their purpose complementary to each other. Just using a file share solution does not protect all your data from accidental loss or malicious deletions. They are good for sharing especially across the globe and working collaboratively with remote teams whereas backups keep them protected for you based on your compliance requirements and policies.

Backups applications now support SaaS-based backups as well. You can backup your Office365 & Google Apps data.

Backup services come with a pay per use model. Pay per GB of stored data without forcing you to pay for licenses for multiple devices or data sources so you can opt for such backup services and enjoy the benefits of data protection.

Use them together to get the synergy for your organization. 

To learn more, check out this 6 Backup features to look for in 2020 next.

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