Increasingly, internet users are expecting online assets to be provided for free. This includes things like news, movies, music, and even some softwares. While cloud backup can be hugely beneficial to individuals, and especially businesses when a data loss event strikes, for those on a budget, it can seem like just another thing you have to pay for. Because of this, some personal and business users are looking to free cloud backup as a possible solution to their data recovery needs — one that will keep their data recoverable and do so without costing them a dime. But as with anything that sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
We took a look at the providers currently offering free cloud backup, and discovered how this “too-good-to-be-true” solution works for businesses and personal users and where it falls short.
There are restrictions — service providers have to make money somehow, and “free” accounts are generally very restrictive for this reason. Most free cloud backup plans will only be of use to you if you’re backing up very small amounts of data (think between 2 – 10 GBs, or less than a basic iPhone). For most users, especially those looking to backup their business, this storage cutoff point is far too small to fully backup all of the critical information they have. Additionally, not all file types are accepted within free plans. You may only be able to backup media files, and not special file types like ZIP and EXE. Bottomline: there is always a trade off, and if you go with a free cloud backup plan, you may only be able to backup a small portion of your data, thus leaving the rest of your data vulnerable to loss and deletion.
Support may be sub-par — When cloud backup services are provided free of charge, the providers offering them don’t have much incentive to provide top of the line support to non-paying users. If you’re looking for a support team that will always be available when you need them, can assist you during file backup and recovery, and can perform some of these functions for you if you’re unable, free plans won’t be sufficient. If your data has personal significance to you or is critical to your business or records, make sure you’ve selected a cloud backup plan that offers adequate support. It will be well worth a few extra dollars to ensure you can backup and recover your data quickly and painlessly.
Access to deleted files may be limited — While cloud backup can help you recover files after data loss, your recovery abilities may be limited if you accidentally delete a file while using a free service, or you’re hit with a ransomware virus that encrypts your data. Most free services do not offer previous file version history recovery — the feature that can help you recover your data if it’s held hostage by a cybercriminal or you accidentally delete a file you shouldn’t have. Be aware of this feature even if you’re hunting for a paid cloud service. Some providers only offer a standard 30 day history of previous file versions. This can be problematic if you don’t realize you have a virus, or that you deleted a file, after this window has passed. If possible, unlimited previous file version histories are always ideal.
Advanced backup options unavailable — while free cloud backup might suffice if you’re backing up a handful of files on one or two devices, free cloud backup won’t be of use if your backup need are more complex. Database and server backup require more robust solutions, especially if you’re working with a proprietary database. You can, however, get metered (pay for what you use) cloud backup plans that offer the specific backup functions you need to keep your servers and databases backed up to the cloud, with options for zero-downtime data recovery.
Ultimately, while free cloud backup may sound like the perfect solution to keep your data intact, there are very few individuals that this tool can be useful for. If you have large, or simply decent amounts of data to backup, have special backup needs (like servers and databases), or you’re looking to backup your business environment, a more extensive cloud backup service may be required. While this will incur some cost, backup plans can be acquired affordably, and free trials can help you to offset the cost.
Although you may have to pay to get the protection you need to keep your data safe, the cost of backing up your data pales in comparison to the cost of losing your data, contributing to company-wide downtime, and going through expensive data recovery attempts.
Paying for cloud backup means your data will always be available when you need it. Click here to compare multiple backup plan options for every need and budget.
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