What Is Cloud Backup and How Does It Actually Work?


In today’s data-hungry business environment, every minute of downtime can potentially cost your organization thousands of dollars. If that downtime is caused by ransomware or another cyberattack, it can also permanently cost you customers.

Downtime can have a significant impact on revenue, employee productivity, and company reputation. Without a rock-solid backup strategy in place, the cost of losing sensitive or mission-critical data could devastate—or even destroy—your business.

Enterprises are increasingly turning to backup-as-a-service (BaaS) solutions that help prevent data loss by saving backup copies in the cloud. BaaS provides a fast and effective way to restore or recover critical data if there’s a disaster or unplanned outage.

The Difference Between Cloud Backup and Cloud Storage

Although they may sound synonymous, cloud backup is not the same as cloud storage. Cloud storage allows you to place files in a central cloud repository so they are easy to access and share. However, cloud storage doesn’t offer the same level of protection you get from cloud backup. 

Cloud storage requires you to manually move updated files to storage. You can turn on File Sync to ensure updated files are moved more frequently, but if a file is deleted or infected by malware, it is deleted or infected in storage as well.

Cloud backup, by contrast, makes copies of your files and updates continuously. So if, for example, your system gets infected by ransomware, cloud backup offers file versioning so you can restore your files with a clean copy from before the attack occurred.


The Benefits of Cloud Backup

Cloud backup offers several advantages over traditional, on-premises backup. When backups are in the cloud, they are accessible on-demand from any device with an internet connection. The data is stored in the cloud, which protects your backups from localized threats like fire and natural disasters.

Some recent ransomware strains specifically target backup files. When you backup to the cloud, your files are separate from the company network, so in the event of an attack, your backup is out of harm’s way and you can quickly restore data once the threat is neutralized. 

In addition to the security benefits of cloud storage, there are several practical reasons to move your backups off-site. Cloud backup doesn’t require purchasing, storing, and maintaining physical hardware, so you’ll save money on storage and infrastructure costs.

Backing up to the cloud also provides greater flexibility because you only pay for the resources you use and you can quickly and easily scale up or down as needed to handle fluctuations in workload.

How Do Cloud Backups Work?

Backing up to the cloud is a pretty straightforward process. 

The first thing you need to do is select a cloud backup service that meets your organization’s specific needs. Some things to consider when looking at the different options out there are your environment type (e.g., cloud, on-premises, hybrid cloud), how secure the solution is (does it also offer cybersecurity?), the level of scalability it offers, and ease of recovery from backup after a disaster.

Once you have selected a cloud backup solution, you will need to configure it to meet your backup requirements (e.g., how frequently you want to backup, accommodating RTOs and RPOs).

Next, select the servers, files, folders, and applications you want to backup. Budget constraints may require you to prioritize what you backup and when, so keep this in mind when you move on to the final step: Schedule backups so a copy of your data, documents, applications, and emails is regularly pulled to a secure, encrypted cloud repository.

Why You Need Cloud Backup for SaaS 

Millions of organizations worldwide rely on Microsoft Office 365 or another software as a service (SaaS) platform that utilizes a shared responsibility model for data. If yours is one of them, cloud backup is a must.

Using Microsoft as an example, Office 365 does not come with backup and recovery capabilities. The onus is on the user to create their own safety net.

Investing in cloud backup for your SaaS solutions provides peace of mind that several essential data protection functions are covered:

Data Recovery

If emails are maliciously deleted by disgruntled employees, your cloud backup is ready and waiting to restore your email and get business communications back to normal.


Highly regulated industries such as healthcare are required to keep patient data secure but accessible to authorized users at all times. Downtime isn’t an option when health and lives are at stake. Plus, your organization can be hit with significant fines for noncompliance with regulations. Cloud backup means your data is both secure and easy to recover after a crisis.


Today’s cloud is laser-focused on keeping data secure against the increasing number of cyberthreats as well as unforeseeable disasters.

Liability Protection

If sensitive user data is lost or stolen, your organization can be held liable, to the tune of potentially millions of dollars in fines, legal fees, settlements, and identity monitoring. SaaS platforms like Microsoft Office 365 are an attractive target for cybercriminals, which makes cloud backup a smart investment.

Our modern economy is built on data, so keeping that data secure must be a top priority for businesses of every size. Securing your organization’s backups in the cloud is a smart business decision that protects your data, reputation, and bottom line. Download How to Build a Disaster Recovery Plan to learn more ways to defend against data loss from malicious actors and unexpected outages.