Online Backup or Online Storage: What Is The Difference?

Backup and Storage

With the emergence of the cloud, all sorts of storage options are emerging. However, terms often get thrown around interchangeably. Two such terms are online backup and online storage.

It is important to know that these are not the same. Online backup is pretty self-explanatory. It provides a safe off-site backup for your data. Online storage, on the other hand, is more than a simple backup. It functions more like your computer’s internal memory. You can readily work with the files that you have put in your online storage from anywhere, anytime. Let us look at each in more detail:


Catastrophic events can strike at any time. A slip of the hand while drinking a glass of water over your laptop (yes that could be a catastrophe), a robbery, a strike of malware or even a natural disaster could rob you of all your data in seconds.

Data loss can be very stressful both for an individual and a corporation. It could set you back milestones in your work and result in financial losses. This is where online backup can be the shining light of hope.

In the online backup, all you do is select all the important files that you can’t bear losing and send them to the cloud to be stored. That is essentially all there is to it.

Those files are sitting off-site to be downloaded again to your system, in case your own copy is inaccessible. Providers build on this fundamental concept and add features that can make the whole process more convenient. For example, there is the option of automated backup throughout the day.

Or you can choose to backup just at certain times of the day. Since backup demands processing power, it can slow a system down.

The latter option comes in handy then because you can just set your computer to backup online at night when the processor is not being used for any other work. However, the whole focus of online back-up providers is to make sure your data is stored with them and is provided maximum security.

You might already be using online backup in some shape and form, without knowing it. For example, if your music is on iTunes, it is backed up online.

This is why, if you change devices, you can easily restore your entire music library to your current device.

Online backup is usually not too hard on the wallet and is a good solution if, for example, you have a lot of photos, videos, music or other data sitting on your machine that you are not actively using all the time but still want to keep. Overcrowded machines slow down. Online backup is both a safeguard against data loss and a great way to free up space on your system without having to stock up on hard drives or SSDs.

Pros of Online Backup:

  • It is cheaper. Some companies like Backblaze provide unlimited backup for a pittance every month.
  • It can be more secure since the providers’ main focus is storing your data safely.
  • You can automate backup so it doesn’t have to be physically done each time.

Cons of Online Backup:

  • You cannot actively use the files in your online backup. They need to be downloaded to your system first.
  • It does not automatically sync changes that you make in the files in your system to your online files.

Following is a list of some leading online backup providers:


With online storage, there is more focus on accessibility and sharing. The files you send to online storage do not just sit there inactive until you download them to your computer again when needed. You can actively use them on the cloud. Essentially, it is like having them on your computer but without giving up any memory for them. Furthermore, online storage synchronizes with your system. This means that any changes you make on your files will automatically reflect on the data in your online storage, should you turn on sync.

With online storage, file sharing is also majorly convenient. You can grant access to your file to someone and they can view or even edit it online with as little as a URL, all depending on the permissions you have enabled.

Online storage is a great option for people who need to work on the fly on multiple systems. You don’t need to carry data with you or download it each time. It is all sitting there online for you to manipulate however you wish. It is also extremely convenient for collaborative projects. Multiple people can access the same file and make live changes.

Pros of Online Storage:

  • It acts almost like internal storage and lets you use your files readily on the fly.
  • It provides syncing and can automatically update online any changes you make in your files locally.
  • It is more collaborative. Multiple people can access and make live changes (if you allow it) in the files.

Cons of online storage:

  • It can be more expensive.
  • As its main focus is syncing and file sharing, it could be a little less secure than just pure online backup.

Following is a list of some leading online storage providers:

All companies listed above provide some free space as a signup bonus. In fact, dropbox gives you 2 GB space by default and upto 18 GB space if you refer 32 friends using your referral code. You can do it on scale using this simple little hack.


In the end, it really just boils down to personal preference. If all you need is a place to store data that you want to be kept safe but are not really involved with, online storage is a way to go. It is secure and has much cheaper plans so it is easier on the pockets. If, however, you find yourself constantly editing files and sending them to backup, you might want an option that lets you store your files somewhere and be able to use them at the same time. In this case, online storage will be a better friend. Sure, it is pricier but if you need ready access to your data at all times, its convenience can be worth the extra expense.


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