A remote, online, or managed backup service, sometimes marketed as cloud backup or backup-as-a-service, is a service that provides users with a system for the backup, storage, and recovery of computer files. Online backup providers are companies that provide this type of service to end-users (or clients). Such backup services are considered a form of cloud computing.
Online backup systems are typically built for a client software program that runs on a given schedule. Some systems run once a day, usually at night while computers aren't in use. Other newer cloud backup services run continuously to capture changes to user systems nearly in real-time. The online backup system typically collects, compresses, encrypts, and transfers the data to the remote backup service provider's servers or off-site hardware.
There are many products on the market – all offering different feature sets, service levels, and types of encryption. Providers of this type of service frequently target specific market segments. High-end LAN-based backup systems may offer services such as Active Directory, client remote control, or open file backups. Consumer online backup companies frequently have beta software offerings and/or free-trial backup services with fewer live support options.
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