Cloud Backup

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Today’s Question: What role does a service like iCloud play in the backup scenario?

Tim’s Quick Answer: To me the various cloud-based storage and synchronization options should be treated as a supplemental backup option, not a replacement for a local backup workflow. That said, cloud-based services such as iCloud can be very helpful as a supplemental backup solution.

More Detail: One of the key attributes of a good backup workflow is having a backup that is stored on a separate storage device and in a completely separate physical location relative to the original data you are backing up. A cloud-based backup certainly fits both of those criteria, since the backup in that case would be stored at a completely different location. In fact, in most cases with an online backup you probably won’t have any idea where the backup is actually stored.

However, one of my concerns about an online backup is that you don’t know where the backup is stored, you don’t know how it is being managed, and you don’t have physical control over the backup. In other words, you’re putting a lot of faith in the online backup since you can’t actually verify the existence of that backup.

Because you don’t have any direct control over an online backup, I recommend treating this type of backup as a supplemental backup rather than a primary backup. In other words, I recommend that all photographers create their own backup copies of all photos and other important data, storing the backup on a separate storage device and ideally in a separate location from the original source data.

However, a cloud-based backup service (such as is possible with iCloud synchronization) can absolutely be helpful as a secondary backup solution to supplement your local backup workflow. In other words, I most certainly take advantage of an online storage solution to supplement my local backup workflow. But I would never ignore my local backup workflow just because I am also taking advantage of an online backup solution.