Back up in the Cloud or Back up Locally? A Head-to-Head Comparison

Whether you’re a content creator trying to safely store your data or you run a business handling private information, at some point, you’ll need to decide whether to back up your data locally or via the cloud. While both options have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on the data you store, one option may be more appropriate than the other. If you’re looking for all the details on whether to backup in the cloud or locally, we’ve got you covered.

What is local backup?

Backing up your data locally refers to the practice of storing your data backups on an on-site physical storage device as your network. With local backups, you make copies of your most important files, documents, databases, and systems and save them onto a device. These devices can include external hard drives, network-attached storage (NAD), or tape drives that are physically connected to your local network or computer.

Advantages

Accessibility and Speed

Local backup options provide fast and efficient access to your data because your storage is physically present within your premises or network. This allows for quick data restoration, especially if you store large volumes of data.

Control

With local backup storage, you have complete control over your data. With total control, you can customize your backup settings, schedule backups according to specific requirements, and manage your backup process entirely.

Security

With local backup, your data gets an added layer of defence against unauthorized access. Because your data is held in a specific location, such as a data centre or on-premises of your business, you’re almost risk-free from hackers gaining access to your data without breaking into its physical location. This reduces your risk of security breaches that are more commonly associated with cloud-based storage.

Cost-effective

Backing up your data locally is often the more cost-effective option for data storage, especially for small businesses or personal data. With local data storage, you make a one-time investment in your storage device. This means no monthly recurring fees, and you can always invest in more data storage when needed.

Disadvantages

Vulnerability

While local backup is an excellent option for many reasons, it is more vulnerable to local disasters. In the event of natural disasters, fire, theft, physical damage, or even blackouts or brownouts, both your original data and local backups may be lost. For this reason, if you go with local data storage, you should invest in having your backups held in an offsite facility in case your office catches fire and you lose everything.

Limited scalability

One problem with local backup is its limited scalability. With local backups, you make a single upfront investment but are limited to that finite capacity until you decide to purchase more storage. As your data grows, you may need to upgrade or replace your backup devices to accommodate your increasing storage needs, resulting in additional costs and maintenance efforts. This is an especially important consideration if you run a business or work with large amounts of data.

Lack of offsite redundancy

While a single on-site backup solution has its benefits, it also contains associated risks. A single on-site backup solution can leave you vulnerable in the event that your physical storage solution is lost or destroyed. Since local backups get stored in the same place as your original data, an offsite backup solution can ensure data redundancy and improve your overall disaster recovery method.

Manual maintenance requirements

Unlike cloud backup, local backup storage does require some human management and intervention. With this option, you need to conduct regular intervention and maintenance. This ensures your backup protocols and storage devices remain functioning as they should. You also need to regularly test your backups and files for data integrity. This process requires a human pair of eyes, which increases your margin of error while being a time-consuming, monotonous process.

What is a cloud backup?

With data storage, your other option is backing up in the cloud. Unlike local backups, cloud backup refers to storing your data backups in a remote, cloud-based infrastructure. Cloud backup works by sending copies of your data over a network. The data copies are then stored on servers by your cloud storage provider. You can access and restore these backups from anywhere, as long as you have the encryption key and an internet connection.

Advantages

Disaster recovery

Unlink local backups; cloud backups are stored offsite, non-physically. This option protects you from localized disasters that could impact your original data, like a fire or theft of your physical data storage devices. Should a major catastrophe affecting your original data source occur, you’ll easily be able to access and recover your lost data backups.

Scalability

Cloud backup solutions are typically more scalable than local storage solutions. For businesses with large and growing amounts of data, cloud backups permit you to easily allocate additional storage space without needing to physically upgrade or replace your hardware. This option offers more flexibility, allowing you to adjust your storage capacity based on your growing needs.

Automated backup

Cloud backup services often offer automated backup schedules and continuous data protection features. These systems can perform automatic backups without the need for manual intervention, ensuring regular and consistent backups. Automated backups also minimize your risk of human error and ensure your data is backed up promptly.

Accessibility and flexibility

Backing up in the cloud makes it easy to access and restore your data from wherever you are, so long as you have an internet connection. This provides flexibility and convenience, allowing users to retrieve their backed-up data from various devices and locations. This may be particularly useful if you operate a remote business or for businesses with multiple branches.

Disadvantages

Internet dependence

While the cloud allows you to access your data from anywhere, it does rely on an internet connection to transfer data. If your internet connection is slow or unreliable, the backup and restoration process can be delayed or interrupted, affecting the speed and accessibility of data recovery.

Security and privacy

If you go the backup in the cloud route, you have to be careful about selecting a reputable and trustworthy provider with robust security measures and encryption protocols. While many providers prioritize data security, there can still be concerns about breaches or unauthorized access to sensitive information.

Costs

Cloud backup services typically involve subscription costs based on storage usage, features, and service levels. While these can be cost-effective compared to upfront hardware investments, the cumulative cost over time should be considered to ensure they align with your budget.

Data transfer speed

Another cost of a backup in the cloud is the data transfer speed. Uploading large volumes of data to the cloud for your initial backup process can be time-consuming, depending on upload and download speed limitations. This is another factor to consider when planning backup and recovery timeframes.

Picking the right backup solution for your data

Overall, deciding between backing up in the cloud or locally depends on your specific needs and priorities. While both options include distinct advantages and disadvantages, by weighing the pros and cons of each option, you can make the best decision for your business or personal data. When deciding between the two, assess your needs, risk tolerance, budget, and any regulatory requirements to select the best solution for you.


Ashley Nielsen

Back up in the Cloud or Back up Locally? A Head-to-Head Comparison

Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a freelance writer who loves to share knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, wellness, and financial tips. During her free time, she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favourite music.