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6 Reasons You Should Not Mistake File Sharing For Data Protection

People often assume that because they’re using a cloud-based service like OneDrive for file sharing, that their data is protected, as if it was backed up… sadly, this is not the case. While file sharing and data protection technologies have some overlapping features, they are fundamentally different in their approach.

As a product marketing guy, I’m often called on to support our sales team in competitive situations (I like to think of myself as a ninja, minus the cool attire), and over the past few months I have noticed an increase in the “We already have OneDrive for Business, we don’t need data protection” argument.

In these situations, the biggest hurdle that must be overcome is making a clear distinction between file sync and share, and data protection. In these situations, I explain that while these technologies may have some overlapping features, they are fundamentally different in their functionality, and should be considered complementary technologies rather than swappable replacements for one another.

Don’t get me wrong, the rising popularity of Microsoft Office 365 and its bundled file sync and share solution, OneDrive for Business, is good for IT departments, freeing them from the burden of managing their own MSFT infrastructure, as well as for end users, with its collaboration and file sync & share capabilities. However, it should not be mistaken as a replacement for an enterprise data protection solution for few key reasons.

Addressing Different Needs

It’s important to know why file sync and sharing is not  the same as an enterprise-grade backup solution. File sharing is built for real-time collaboration with a high availability of smaller sets of end user content, but it is not designed for data recovery in the case of user error, data corruption and data loss due to ransom ware, nor does it address archiving, or a completely new set of compliance and eDiscovery challenges.

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.

Differences In Approach

  • File sync and share is interactive and required user involvement—you select, copy or move files and folders you choose to sync. Backup is invisible and comprehensive data protection.
  • With file sync and share, files are synced across devices, and all devices are impacted if a version is deleted or corrupted. Backup is designed to create redundancy in case one version is lost, deleted or corrupted.
  • File sharing makes a subset of your files available to other devices or people. Backup secures all of your files and keeps them safe so you can access and restore files when needed.

Understanding the Gaps

Informing prospects of certain limitations with OneDrive can also help make the distinction a little clearer. Here are six reasons why file sharing is not a comprehensive approach to data protection:

  1. Lack of Automation – OneDrive stores only files that a user places in their “sync folder,” requiring end-user training and severely limiting the scope of what data is captured. Files left open will not sync until closed, leaving data at risk. OneDrive‘s sync and share lacks automated deployment and reporting, requiring hands-on management by IT.
  2. File Size and Sync Limitations – OneDrive has a file size upload limit of 10GB per file, and limits the amount of items that can be stored: 20,000 files for business library and 5,000 for the site library. OneDrive does not support large directories, and path size is limited to 250 characters, limiting usability.
  3. Support for Locked Files – OneDrive does not backup files which are already open by other applications like Adobe PDF viewer, Outlook, etc.
  4. Unsupported File Types – OneDrive does not allow users to upload files whose file types are blocked on SharePoint Online, such as .exe, .msi, .dll. Moreover, the list of blocked files is fixed and can not be changed.
  5. eDiscovery – Office 365 only offers in-place eDiscovery and legal hold capabilities for Exchange and OneDrive/SharePoint content, ignoring the content on end- users devices as well as other cloud services
  6. Bandwidth Management – OneDrive’s lack of deduplication and resource throttling (bandwidth and CPU) increases the risk of a poor end-user experience, particularly for users on WAN or networks of varying quality.

Once IT teams and end users understand the key differences between file sync and share and data protection, the case for having both is clear-cut and my job is done <cue ninja smoke bombs>.

Interested in more about the differences between OneDrive and Druva inSync? Read ‘Overcoming The Gaps In Microsoft OneDrive To Achieve Enterprise-Wide Availability and Governance’ technical brief.

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