File Sync and Sharing is Not Backup

As today’s employees increasingly bring their devices into the office, and as the office becomes more mobile, the ways in which people work and handle data is drastically changing. Mobile workers are using a variety of tools to collaborate from the road, creating new challenges for the IT staff charged with protecting corporate data.

Data protection requirements have grown in accordance with new regulations across industries and throughout the world. Organizations must be able to demonstrate compliance, yet how can they do this when the average user has several devices and copies of corporate data stored on those devices? Furthermore, with nearly 30% of corporate data residing only on endpoint devices, how can organizations guarantee that they are in control of all of their data?

Many users turn to file sync and sharing to provide the flexibility and collaborative processes they need. File sync and sharing allows them to access data from multiple devices, as well as to create content with others. Users can download content, as well as upload new versions and make changes in real time. Yet this is where the limitations of file sharing for data management purposes become clear.

File sharing solutions, in particular consumer-grade solutions, allow limited versioning capabilities, such as a fixed number of versions (e.g., 5 versions of a file saved) or versions created within the past few days (e.g., versions created in the last 30 days). While this allows multiple versions to be stored, it also creates situations where content worked on by a large number of users can be overwritten or rendered irretrievable. Additionally, users may create content outside of the file sharing tool on their device, and without backup, this data is unprotected. Downloaded data is also outside the reach of file sharing and is vulnerable in the event a device is lost or damaged.

Another issue with file sync and sharing, especially consumer-grade solutions, is that IT often has no visibility into corporate data handled by users, and consequently no means of placing a user’s data on legal hold when required. Equally troubling is the possibility of users leaving the company but retaining corporate IP in their file sharing accounts.

It’s important to know why file sync and sharing is not backup. Enterprise backup software differs from file sync and sharing in that the software automatically makes a copy of every user’s data available for recovery. Endpoint data is protected in its entirety and if a device is lost or stolen, additional features such as remote wipe and geo tracking help organizations trace the device and/or remotely delete corporate data. In addition, backup of a user’s system and application settings ensures that new or replacement devices can be set up quickly, while preserving a user’s familiar working environment.

Automatic backup allows organizations to ensure that they control their critical data. IT can specify the content on user devices that is backed up, use file-type exclusions to eliminate the backup of media files depending on corporate policy, and put in place data retention policies to guarantee that data is available in the case of compliance questions or disaster. They can use analytics to search for critical data across all users and devices in the enterprise, as well as monitor usage that can highlight any questionable data handling practices.

In today’s mobile world, businesses need to protect their corporate data while empowering their workforces. Using both backup and enterprise-grade file sharing capabilities together ensures that data is secure and employees have the tools to collaborate when they are on the road.