Cloud Backup or External Drive Backup? … Choose Both!


Cloud backup services and external hard drive backups each have advantages and disadvantages. That’s what makes it hard to decide which one to choose.

By using both systems, you can get all the benefits they have to offer. When you read the list below, you’ll realize that you wouldn’t want to be with only one solution.

Hybrid Backup System

These are the benefits of using a hybrid backup system:

  • Current Data Backup (Cloud & Drive Backup). For people who run an automated backup to an external hard drive on a daily or weekly basis, the most recent data may not always be available. Cloud backup services typically backup and synchronize in realtime as you work. Local backup software can do this as well, but sometimes this isn’t as reliable or could slow down the computer. Larger files, such as videos, may be more likely to get backed up to a local drive sooner than they will with cloud services since uploading gigabytes of data takes time. So, in this regard, both services offer equal benefits.
  • Disaster Recovery (Cloud Backup). In the event of a tornado, fire, flood, or other disaster, it’s important to have an off-site backup. Using a cloud backup service provides this advantage.
  • Image Recovery (Drive Backup). If your computer crashes, how much time will it take to install the operating system, all programs, and reconfigure everything to work again? It could take days, unless you have an image backup in which case it could take about 20 minutes. Image backups are a copy of your entire hard drive at a point in time. When you recover an image, it includes everything on your drive as if nothing ever happened. You can restore an image backup to a brand new drive, even a larger faster drive, and keep working after a hard drive crash. This is what makes an image backup so helpful. You can make an image backup using software like Acronis True Image.
  • Physical Data Security (Drive Backup). If you’re using a cloud service like Dropbox, and have the unfortunate experience of letting go a disgruntled employee, you may wake up to find all of your data is missing — if you’ve not quickly changed the password required to access the cloud account and disconnected any shared access. Or, even in a situation where the login to your cloud storage gets compromised, a malicious hacker could delete all the files. With a local hard drive backup, a person would need physical access to your facility to get at the data.
  • Recovery Speed (Drive Backup). We all know that it can take many hours to download files from the Internet. Recovering an entire hard drive of data can take hours or days depending on your connection speed. Using an attached hard drive is much faster if you’re restoring data after a system crash.
  • Reliability (Cloud Backup). A cloud backup is an independent system and can alert you via email if something is wrong. However, an external hard drive backup can fail for any number of reasons without you necessarily being aware of it:
    • If a user disconnects the drive (by ejecting it in Windows), the back software won’t run as scheduled.
    • If the external drive has the power cord accidentally unplugged, or if the power adapter fails, the backup won’t run.
    • If the external drive data cable becomes disconnected, the backup won’t run.
    • If the external drive fails or crashes, the backup won’t run.
    • If the backup software freezes up, or stops running properly, the backup won’t run.
  • Theft Prevention (Cloud Backup). If someone breaks into  your office or store, and takes your equipment along with your backup drive, you will have lost all your data. In this regard, a cloud backup is helpful.

What’s Required?

To create your own hybrid solution, begin using a cloud synchronization service like to have a shared folder across your business computers. You could also choose to use a service like Carbonite for cloud backups and share the files through your local network (instead of using cloud-sync sharing). Then, on one of those computers, connect an external drive for backups. You could use the backup software included with Windows or purchase something like Acronis True Image.