In just a few short years, services like Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud and Microsoft OneDrive have changed the way everyday people think about file storage. No longer are devices beholden to carry the burden of being a repository for the totality of one’s digital life. Nowadays, desktops, tablets and mobile phones are vectors, similar to old-style terminals, for accessing your cloud-based digital life.

However, with the rise of these file sync and share services came the notion that they were also perfectly suitable backup and disaster recovery solutions as well. After all, many people have stories of that consumer-grade external hard drive failing and taking with it years of photos and documents. I know it happened to me. So, with the advent of a service like Google Drive, with its seamless integration into my desktop and mobile phone—and backed by the safety and assurance of a tech titan like Google—it’s clear why people adopted this and similar solutions. It was shiny, new, and safe. But it wasn’t BDR.

Even today, it’s not exactly clear. Take a look:

SERP results for Google Drive file sync and share


Let's take a look at one of Google Drive's product pages:

Google Drive file sync and share product page

When these services are not outright describing themselves as a backup solution, they are touting their safety and security. For the everyday user, the difference between true BDR and a file sync and share service gets murky.

So, why can’t Google Drive and Dropbox replace a true BDR solution? Here are a few reasons you can use to explain to prospects and clients.

  1. They are just storage for files.

To understand the limitations of these services, think of Google Drive or Dropbox literally—they are virtual hard drives to drop your files into, nothing more, nothing less. A BDR solution will at the very least create an image of your computing environment, with which you are able to revert back to at a global or granular level, right down to individual files.

  1. File sync and share solutions aren’t perfect.

These services are not perfect. Their services are connected to physical locations on earth, and the servers, drives, and other equipment fail as well. Furthermore, they are also susceptible to the same natural disasters as anywhere else on the planet. Should a Dropbox facility be subjected to a data loss event, they will need—you guessed it—a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery solution to restore business continuity.

(In case you were wondering, Google Drive in fact went down on October 7, 2015, resulting in data loss for several hours until it was able to be restored.)

If a computer or device gets hit with CryptoLocker, and then syncs to a cloud-based file-sync and share application, then every file in that cloud is also CryptoLocker-infected. A backup and disaster-recovery solution can roll your environment back to a state before it was infected with CryptoLocker, and your clients are back in business.

  1. Backup and disaster recovery is about business continuity.

When it comes down to it, SMB businesses can appreciate the ease, flexibility, mobility and speed that a file sync and share service can provide, but it is entirely a distinct solution from backup and disaster recovery, the purpose of which is to provide and sustain business continuity at all times. That means data backups, data retention, backup verification, DR testing and more. A proper BDR solution should be able to minimize or prevent downtime utilizing virtual environments and fast recovery point objectives to make sure SMBs businesses are brought back online and operational as fast as possible. A data loss event or disaster could mean major financial losses for an SMB—perhaps the loss of their entire business—making business continuity absolutely vital for every SMB.


Above and beyond any file sync and share service that’s employed, businesses need BDR. Otherwise they are simply rolling the dice, waiting for a data loss event to wreak havoc. Need more help talking with clients about their business continuity plan? Don't let them gamble with their data!