What is Automated Cloud Backup? How is it different from Manual Backup?

Introduction to Automated Cloud Backup

Backups are an integral aspect of IT computing. The technology has moved from the comfort of manual backup tapes to cloud based backup strategies. In the earlier days of IT computing – data backups were maintained on tapes , which were securely transported in fire safe cabinets to offsite locations and called on when a calamity or disaster strikes for recovery purposes.

The manual backup mechanism has several limitations and draw backups related to shelf-life of backup media, scaling of physical backup media, its transportation to remote sites, multiple copies management for redundancy, support infrastructure costs such as tape drives, archival software, tape libraries etc. 

Today we look more in detail about online/automated cloud backup terminology, its advantages compared to traditional manual backups etc.

What is an Automated Cloud backup?

Storage of data is crucial as long realized by humans. Starting from punch cards way back in the 1800s to tape drives of the 1950s we have come a long way. Then slowly disk drives were introduced and finally it is cloud. When everything is moving to cloud then why not data?

Automated cloud backup or online backup as it is called is the process of automatic backup and storage of data onto a remote storage system over Internet ‘Cloud.’ Cloud based backup solutions store important files and documents in a secure manner to remote sites (offsite) which in the event of disaster such as hardware failures or malicious attacks can be retrieved. The automatic backup system eliminates the need of a human to monitor or manage to ensure backups are taken correctly and regularly.

Online backup vs Manual backup

The question comes now: why should we choose automated online backups over manual backup? Let’s look into more in detail about the two in terms of scalability, reliability, Redundancy, ease of recovery, security, and initial setup and maintenance costs.


  • Online backup includes additional features such as encryption, compression, storage virtualization , data deduplication etc. to enhance the reliability and efficiency of backups. Backups are performed without human intervention at scheduled frequency.
  • Manual tape-based backups have a shelf life of 30 years. Due to manual in nature, they are error prone and their reliability also depends on maintenance and transportation / logistics arrangements.


  • Online backup has Public clouds, which offer flexibility to get as much space as you want for backup based on pay-as-you-go.
  • Scaling manual backup is a tedious task as it involves purchasing more tapes, purchasing additional hardware and infrastructure to maintain it.


  • Online backup is easily accessible from any location.
  • While for manual backup, access is limited to physical location or network.


  • Security features such as encryption, immutability, and secure authentication are enabled and bound by data regulatory laws in an online backup.
  • Tapes are offline hence secure to malware, ransomware, and other online breaches.


  • Online backup offers multi-site data redundancy.
  • To achieve redundancy , more than one manual copy is created and store offsite to other location or locations.

Recovery efforts:

  • Recovery from online storage requires no special requirements in terms of transportation etc. usually recovery is a click away.
  • Recovery from tape media requires the operator to recall tape, locate data, and restore it.

Setup cost:

  • Online backup offers annual or monthly subscription services and no additional costs to manage backup infrastructure for enterprises.
  • In manual backup, you have to maintain your own backup infrastructure.

Maintenance cost:

  • Cost of maintenance is borne by the cloud backup provider.
  • In case of manual backup, the cost of supported infrastructure such as tape drives, archive software, and tape libraries can spiral, in addition to power and cooling requirements, costs of maintenance staff.

Comparison Table

Below table summarizes the differences between the two types of data backup:

Download the comparison table: online backup vs manual backup

Benefits of Automated Cloud Backup

Manual backups are time consuming compared to their cloud backup counterparts. Automated backups offer a wide range of benefits as under:

  • Set and forget – automated cloud backups are reliable as pre-scheduled to a secure location on cloud without any human intervention involved
  • RTO and business continuity – easy point in time recovery helps to reduce downtime and ensure business continuity quickly from disaster 
  • Readiness to audit-compliance – Cloud based backup solutions are designed keeping in mind the data regulatory requirements to ensure audit readiness at all times
  • No need for dedicated resources – dedicated hardware or software resources are required to save costs 
  • Scalable in nature – Scaling is easier as there is no need to procure or setup additional hardware to manage additional requirements
  • Open accessibility – Remote and hybrid working environments where distributed teams are spread across can access data from any location seamlessly. 

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