Understanding the Differences between Online Backup and Backup Software

With so many ways to back up your data these days, it could become overwhelming when having to choose which way to go. Two popular options are online backup and backup software. Here we will examine the difference between the two to help you determine which one is right for you.

Online backup is the process of backing up your data to a (third party) remote location via an internet connection. This is currently the most popular way of safe guarding data. Many online backup providers come with backup software that you will need to install on your computer. Once installed, you will have access to a backup panel where you control when and how often to send your data to that remote location. Once your data has been backed up, you can restore your data from the remote location whenever necessary. Below are the pros and cons to using online backup to store your files.


    • Disaster proof – in the event of a house fire, you will never need to worry about lost data.

    • Security – you can sleep soundly at night knowing that should a home invasion occur, your data is stored in a remote location, and not accessible to thieves. Online backup providers also use top notch encryption levels making it virtually impossible for hackers to steal your data.

  • Unlimited access – as long as you have an internet connection, which is everywhere these days, you can access your backed up data anywhere.


    • Time – if you have a lot of photos and videos, this could amount to a lot of space. Backing up a lot of data takes time and leads us to our next point:

    • Internet reliance – if you have a lot of data coupled with a slow internet connection, restoring your files will take forever. Moreover, you will not have access to your data should your internet go down.

  • Control – you can have your data literally in the palm of your hand should you decide to back up your data with an external hard drive. While online backup has great control via the internet and whatever software comes with it, it is not the same as having your personal data in your hands.

Backup software on the other hand is a fancy name for offline backup. In layman’s terms, it is a piece of software that you install on your computer. This software will then take a picture, also known as a snapshot, of your hard drive. Your files are then compressed, allowing you to store them to another drive, CD or anywhere else you desire. Below are the pros and cons to using backup software to store your files.


    • Easy access – should you choose to save the data on a CD, simply put the CD back in a CD drive for instant access.

  • Efficiency – since your files are compressed and stored offline, you don’t need to worry about your internet speed. Restoring your files from an offline recovery point is that much faster with backup software. Likewise, backing up these files via software is fast as well.


    • Security – this should be priority number one for everyone. Your CD or external hard drive is exposed to theft no matter how secure you think your home is.

    • Hardware/product malfunction – external hard drives are great…until they’re not. External hard drives are still hard drives only outside a computer box. The entire purpose of backing up your files is to ensure you can retrieve your files no matter how long it takes. Similarly, all CDs develop scratches on them. Think you can find one CD more than 6 months old with no scratches? Think again.

    • Catastrophes – tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, volcanic eruptions, etc. While statistically it is unlikely for your offline backup to be destroyed, do you really want to take that chance with the most important files?

  • Process – a simple Google search of how to retrieve your files with a backup software such as, say, Norton Ghost will tell you in the headline that it’s an easy process. After reading the actual article and trying Norton Ghost, you’ll see it’s not as simple as them make it seem. There is a 7 step process. If you have little technological or computer knowledge, it could be overwhelming.

To put it simply, online backup provides better safety and access from any place on any device while backup software provides instant access and efficiency. So what do you go with? While using both methods are reasonable options for storing files, it is highly recommended to go with online backup unless you tend to commonly find yourself in places with no Internet connection. With online backup, you will never need to worry about losing your files or having them hacked. Despite the drawbacks, the main benefit of online backup over backup software is that it gives you total access from anywhere in the world