Hardware vs. Cloud Backup: What’s Right for Your Business?

Many large enterprises have established data backup in place, but 58 percent of small businesses aren't prepared for data loss. An estimated 60 percent of small businesses that experience data loss shut down within six months. It's critical for small businesses to start backing up their data and come up with a disaster recovery plan.

The good news is that data backup has become easier and more affordable than ever with the rise of cloud storage. In fact, nearly 80 percent of businesses plan on using cloud backup by 2020. Hardware backup options also remain popular in many industries that are concerned about security or wish to keep all of their data on-premise for various reasons.

Let's take a look at the difference between hardware backup and cloud backup solutions, as well as how to choose the right option for your small business.

About 60% of small businesses that experience data loss shut down within six months — do you have a backup in place?

Hardware Backup

Hardware backups have dominated the enterprise market for decades. With the development of Linear Tape-Open (LTO) technology in the late 1990s, companies could store about 100 gigabytes of data per cartridge, and modern LTOs can store upwards of 12 terabytes of data in a single cartridge. Many large organizations would be hard-pressed to make a switch.

The rapidly falling cost and improving the reliability of hard drives has made them a compelling alternative. The cost per gigabyte of modern hard drives is comparable to modern LTOs. They are also much more accessible and easy-to-use for smaller organizations that may not require the massive capacity afforded by LTOs and other storage hardware.


  • Security: Hardware backups are inherently more secure from remote hackers than cloud backup solutions since they can be kept offline. They can also be much more secure overall if you're confident in your physical security measures.

  • Cost: Hardware backups involve the purchase of LTO equipment or hard drives, which are fixed one-time costs, whereas cloud backups are typically ongoing monthly costs. The downside is that the upfront cost is often higher.

  • Network: Hardware backups do not require Internet access or consume bandwidth. They may also be much faster than cloud backups since hardware data transfer speeds are higher, especially when backing up large files (e.g. video).


  • Complexity: Hardware backups must be properly configured in order to be effective. Secure offline backups may require physically connecting a hard drive or inserting an LTO disk, which can be time-consuming and difficult to automate.

  • Upfront cost: The upfront cost of hardware is higher than the initial months of a cloud backup subscription. The payback period for the investment could be months or years. Hardware may also need to be replaced over time.

  • Security: Hardware backups require dedicated security measures against both theft and destruction. If an office building burns down, you could lose all of the data forever and have no way to recover the data.

Cloud Backup

Cloud backup services have become increasingly common as Internet speeds rise and storage costs fall. Amazon, Microsoft, Google and other tech giants maintain large server farms that leverage economies of scale to safely store the data for thousands or millions of individuals and businesses. Some cloud storage options are even free up to a certain limit!

Download our free Disaster Recovery Plan Checklist to ensure that you have the right response during an emergency.

The important distinction to make with cloud backup is the difference between cloud storage and cloud backup. Google Drive is a great cloud storage service to save and share files, but it shouldn't be used as a cloud backup solution. Dedicated cloud backup solutions ensure data is automatically backed up and encrypted to remain safe from hackers.


  • Security: Many cloud backup solutions have built-in security measures, such as automatic encryption, to protect data from attackers. They may also mirror the data across multiple servers to prevent loss from a hardware failure.

  • Convenience: Cloud backup solutions enable you to restore files from any internet-connected device. You don't have to worry about finding a hard drive or tape. In addition, backups can be configured to automatically run.

  • Cost: Cloud backup solutions tend to cost very little to start compared to purchasing hard drives and spending the human capital necessary to configure and maintain them.


  • Network: Cloud backup services require Internet access and consume bandwidth. If you're backing up large amounts of data, cloud backup solutions can slow down networks and cause issues for other users.

  • Security: The security of files backed up in the cloud depends on the cloud backup provider. If hackers can breach their systems, then your files may be vulnerable, especially if they haven't been encrypted.

  • Cost: Most cloud backup solutions involve an ongoing monthly cost, whereas hardware backups may have a fixed cost. The right decision between these options depends on each individual business and their backup needs.

What to Look for in Cloud Backup

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different cloud backup solutions with a wide range of price points. While they all backup files onto remote servers, there are some important differences and considerations to keep in mind when choosing the right cloud backup solutions for your business.

Don’t forget to download our free Disaster Recovery Plan Checklist to ensure that you have the right response during an emergency.

Some important considerations include:

  • Security: Is the data encrypted before it's stored on the remote server? Do the encryption standards meet PCI, HIPAA or other regulatory requirements? Can you maintain separate backup vaults with unique encryption keys for different projects to meet security guidelines?

  • Efficiency: Is the data compressed before it's stored on the remote server? Do automated backup solutions avoid unnecessarily storing duplicate files?

  • Pricing: Does the pricing scale based on the storage used? What are the overage costs? Are there any contracts or setup fees? What's the cost to cancel or move the data elsewhere?

Jungle Disk provides secure cloud backup solutions that are specifically designed for small businesses with less than 250 employees. At a cost of just $4 per employee per month, employees can download encrypted cloud backup software and enable real-time or scheduled backups on PCs or Macs. Advanced data compression also reduces bandwidth usage by 30 percent.

In addition to backing up their devices, companies can just as easily back up network shares, NAS or external hard drives, plus online disks, including Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive and Dropbox. It's easy to forget that these cloud storage accounts need backup of their own in the event that employees leave the company or the account gets locked out or deleted.

The Bottom Line

Most small businesses aren't prepared for data loss, despite the high cost of data loss and the low cost of effective backup solutions. If you're looking for secure cloud storage (and perhaps other cybersecurity solutions), Jungle Disk provides a cybersecurity suite that's designed for cost-conscious small businesses that don't want to get in over their head.

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