In Sync, In the Cloud

by | Jan 30, 2023 | Cloud Computing

If you use Dropbox, OneDrive, SharePoint, or Google Drive to store your documents and files, then you are utilizing a cloud sync service.

Cloud sync services are very useful. They offer a range of benefits for businesses and individuals alike. They offer a way to save a file so that you can access that file from anywhere, using any computer, eliminating the need to store physical copies of important documents. When you modify a document in a cloud sync service, it saves any changes you make to it on the fly. You can choose to share that file with others. In some cases, a cloud sync service can allow options for other users to be able to collaborate on a document and also make modifications. And, of course, a cloud sync service can be perceived as a great way to store files and act as a backup. Additionally, cloud sync services are secure, with multiple layers of encryption and authentication protocols to ensure that only authorized users can access the data. Furthermore, they are often more cost-effective than traditional storage solutions, as they don’t require additional hardware or software. Users can rest assured that their data is safe and secure, and can be accessed quickly and easily.

But even though cloud sync services provide all these benefits, it should not be considered as a replacement for a true cloud backup system. There are several reasons why.

Sync Services are Different from Backup Services

It is tempting to regard something like Google Drive as being like a backup system. A way to store files in a redundant server system, it is easy to assume that files kept in these services could never be lost or corrupted. But there are caveats to this that are important to understand.

Not All Your Important Data is “In Sync”

A sync service keeps only those documents you choose to put there, and it is likely that not all the important data on your desktop or laptop, that you would need restored in the event of a catastrophic event, is actually kept there. A true cloud backup, properly configured to be sufficient for a company’s backup needs, is to ensure that all data of a device, or network, is backed up and not lost in the event of a natural disaster, hardware malfunction, or malware attack. A cloud backup is designed to bring your system back to full function.

Speaking of Malware…

Cloud sync services are particularly vulnerable to malware attacks. Ransomware, in particular, can target cloud sync providers, and therefore their customers. To that point, whatever documents and files you keep in a sync cloud account should be backed up like anything else. And certainly, it should be safeguarded with multi-factor authentication. Many services allow users to bypass multi-factor authentication (MFA) and this allows for the compromise to take place. If you are using a cloud sync service, make sure your MFA is turned on.


Questions to Answer While Creating Your Response Plans

Thinking and planning ahead can make all the difference when incidents occur. When creating your response plans, be sure to answer these questions:

  • Retention Policy

A data retention policy controls how the storage system saves data. Businesses usually set a retention policy for their backed-up data compliance for regulatory reasons, but whether it’s for the reason of compliance or because it is the best practice for your business, a retention policy determines when data will be considered disposable – when it is no longer required to be saved. A data retention policy governs the formatting of records and data, protecting them from corruption. Not all cloud sync services have retention policy options. You should be able to restore files from the past that were changed, modified, or deleted within this retention period. This means that the service can allow the overwriting of files and you should be able to restore a usable copy of the file. In our experience, however, the vendors we have dealt with have blamed viruses when a file cannot be recovered, even files stored within the retention period. We know the file was usable during this retention period but the service vendor file sync service cannot recover a serviceable copy of the file.

  • Files over 50 MB

There is the issue of reliability. As the data is stored in the cloud, it is subject to outages and other technical issues that can cause data loss or corruption. Files 50 MB and over can suffer corruption in a cloud sync environment. It is not entirely clear why this is the case, but we have seen a pattern of this being the case, among various cloud sync providers. We have been called in to help various customers recover their data because of this.

  • Plans and Pricing

For business, cloud sync providers have per-user, per-month pricing plans, which can get expensive, but can also come with unlimited storage. However, if actual storage exceeds the plan, then this can lead to a loss of data as well.

  • Data Breaches

Additionally, there is the risk of data breaches and other security threats. As the data is stored in the cloud, it is vulnerable to malicious actors who may be able to access the data without permission. With all of the security in place, malicious actors have found ways to back door into large providers in other arenas. You need to be mindful that this can be a future possibility with your data. Do not rest all of your hope in one service.

Most businesses will find that a cloud syncing service is a very functional tool, perhaps even indispensable. However, it does not act in the place of a proper backup that is properly configured to recover a business network after a catastrophic event. Most businesses need both . Using the right tool and in the right way is how business works efficiently and profitably.

If you have questions about the backup plan of your business, call Secure Networkers at 281-651-2254 or reach out to us by  email with your questions. We will be glad to help.


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