What is cloud sync?

February 18, 2022 | 4 minute read
Mike Chen
Sr. Manager Digital Copywriter
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Cloud sync refers to the synchronization between devices for files that live on cloud storage. The cloud provider offers sync capabilities so that any changes or updates to files and new uploads are all available across devices in near real time. Cloud sync services deliver on the promise of anywhere, anytime access for individuals, groups, or enterprises.

For individuals, cloud sync allows files, such as photos, videos, and documents, to be accessed across registered devices. For groups, cloud sync ensures that everyone in a group gets the latest shared files at the same time across their devices, such as when new photos are uploaded to a family’s shared folder. For enterprises, cloud sync provides a path to robust collaboration by allowing project team members to get the latest files and updates as needed. This availability increases flexibility while minimizing issues with version control.

To learn more about the cloud storage services that Oracle provides, see Oracle Cloud Storage.

How cloud sync services work

To demonstrate how a cloud sync service works, let’s look at an example in an enterprise situation across a start-to-end workflow. Take the situation of a marketing team working on a project.

  1. A graphic designer finishes the draft of an illustration to be used in a multichannel project. They upload the PDF to secure project folder in cloud storage.

  2. Team members from the marketing department get notifications across devices of a new asset in the folder.

  3. Two team members in different time zones leave comments on the PDF and upload revised versions. One of these versions comes from a tablet using the cloud storage provider’s app.

  4. The designer takes the feedback and uploads a new version.

  5. The new version is approved by all members of the folder.

  6. A universal link for the asset is sent out to marketing and creative teams for general usage.

This example shows the cross-section of access, collaboration, and ability to stay updated. Cloud sync enables cloud storage to empower users with an emphasis on accuracy and functionality.

Benefits of cloud sync services

Whether a built-in feature of a cloud storage platform or an optional premium service, cloud sync offers the following benefits:

  • Expanded anytime, anywhere access across devices

  • Instant notifications and updating when files or folders are updates

  • Greater flexibility for remote work to ensure version control, particularly when team members are in different time zones

  • Secure access based on invitations or role-based permissions for critical files

  • Immediate backup upon updating and saving, based on a platform’s specific functionality and configuration

Limitations of cloud sync

By and large, cloud sync offers a wide range of robust features useful in almost any circumstance. However, a few limitations exist, which create sensible consideration for how and when cloud sync is deployed. Because cloud sync comes with anywhere, anytime access across each user’s devices, files can wind up living on unintended devices. For example, a user is on the go, downloads a file to look at on a mobile phone while waiting for a meeting to start, and then forgets to delete the file later.

This circumstance can represent a security risk if the phone is stolen or hacked. To deal with these risks, a practical approach is required to consider user permissions or limiting the types of devices that can access certain types of files. To take advantage of cloud sync’s many benefits, a corporate IT strategy regarding device user access must be established.

Cloud sync, cloud backup, and cloud storage

It’s important to differentiate between cloud sync, cloud backup, and cloud storage. These three items have many overlapping qualities, but in the end, they’re distinctly different with the following characteristics:

  • Cloud storage: The backbone of all three, cloud storage is storage media accessible through an internet connection. Storage includes anything from a photo platform to an enterprise file service. If the files are accessed through the internet instead of a local hard drive, it’s cloud storage.

  • Cloud backup: Cloud backup is a form of cloud storage used for backup purposes. How this backup happens depends on both the platform and the user. One possibility is setting the connection for daily backups. Another is weekly. Another is near-real-time on a file-by-file basis. Functionally, these examples are all backups, which still operate differently from usage as collaboration or sharing.

  • Cloud sync: Cloud sync uses cloud storage and can be a form of cloud backup. Cloud sync refers to the level of access, connectivity, and updating across devices.

Oracle Cloud Infrastructure offers robust cloud storage services with features for both cloud sync and cloud backup. Learn more about OCI.

Mike Chen

Sr. Manager Digital Copywriter

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