file-syncing-automatic-backup-differences|Photo Courtesy ofDepositphotos.com your presentation coming up in a few hours, you decide to do a quick review and click to open the slides your team has prepared. Instead, you get a pop-up alert and an awful sinking feeling: your file has become corrupted. The fate of your presentation depends on a distinction that often puzzles new cloud users: the differences between file syncing and automatic backup.

File syncing and automatic backup both use the cloud to hold data, but they’re different tools that solve different problems. Here’s a brief explanation of the two commonly confused terms.

  1. Automatic backup protects your data: As a disaster recovery tool, automatic backup saves a copy of your business data to a secure location at regular intervals. If something goes wrong, you can use your automatic backup to retrieve a copy of your data.
  2. Syncing makes your data accessible to multiple users: A workflow management tool, file syncing automatically copies the latest version of a document across all the devices. When you open a file to make changes, you know you’re working on the latest version.

Let’s return to the example of the corrupted presentation files. If your team’s presentation was automatically backed up (think disaster recovery), it’s more likely you would be able to recover the file, or at least a previous version of it. The most recent changes might be lost, but you wouldn’t need to start over. If, however, your team was using file syncing alone (think workflow and collaboration), you don’t have the same level of confidence that you can get to an uncorrupted version of that file. If that file is corrupted and you can’t access any previous versions, then you’ll need to recreate the document.

At this point, you may be wondering which of these tools is better. Remember, file syncing and data backup are two different tools for different problems. The best strategy may be to use them in tandem. Let’s say you’re working on a report and need to access the same file from your office and your home computer. That’s a great time to use file syncing. Midway through your report, you realize you need some information from research you did two years ago. Even though that research hasn’t been a current working file in a long time, you can access it through your automatic data backup from virtually any computer or mobile device.

In a small business, the person who implemented the file sync or backup solution probably understands how each works. Taking the time to educate the rest of the staff on their differences and uses can help ensure everyone knows how to find archived data as well as how to protect current projects.

We want to hear your comments. Does your business use file syncing and automatic backup? If so, what do you use each tool for? Join the discussion!