Backing up data on your computer has always been critical. A long time ago floppies were used to backup your data, later it was CDs and then DVDs. Today there is no affordable external removable media capable of keeping up with modern multi-terabyte drives.
Note: For those that can afford it, tape backup is still an option but it's expensive and slow when compared to an external hard drive.
Even if you have an external drive or NAS (network attached storage), it can be damaged, lost, stolen or suffer data corruption. If you don't have an off-site backup, and your local backups are in-tact they can be damaged by fire, earthquake, or other natural disasters.
If you're looking for a backup solution, there are a few choices:
- Use an external drive and keep your backup locally and hope that nothing happens to them.
- Use multiple external drives and keep one of the backup drives offsite, and rotate it out on a regular basis.
- Use a cloud based backup service provider.
Below is a list of some advantages to using a cloud based backup service provider vs. using an external hard drive:
- All your backups are stored off-site automatically.
- Some backup solutions offer services that run in the background on your computer that automatically compresses your unbacked up files, encrypts them, then forward them on to the service provider you selected.
- You almost never have to worry about running out of capacity as long as you have a budget for the storage that you're using.
There are several service providers available that offer cloud based backup services. Some of them offer free options that have limited amounts of storage, while more robust service offering that cost money. The hard part will be finding one that you like, and that has the features that you want.
There are also some disadvantages to using these services, such as:
- Depending on how much data you have, these services can initially use a lot of bandwidth. Your ISP may have caps on the amount of data that you can utilize each month.
- If you have to recover your whole hard drive from your service provider it can be challenging and expensive depending on the available solutions.
Below is a list of features and other considerations when looking for a company to host your backups:
Cloud Backup Service Provider
- Has a good reputation for providing a reliable backup solution.
- Offers easy to use software that automatically backs up your files and uses strong encryption.
- Offers affordable pricing for storage and recovery services.
- There are generally two pricing models used by most of these sites:
- A predefined amount of storage (such as 50 or 100GB) for a monthly or yearly fee.
- Unlimited storage with a yearly fee.
- Offers storage capacity options that meets your needs and budget
Check out the site to see a current list of features and prices.
Features: Unlimited online backup storage, files are backed up
automatically, encrypts files for privacy, you can access your files
from any computer or smartphone with a free app.
- CrashPlan: Provides free and low cost Internet backup solutions for personal and small businesses. One feature I like about this service, is that it allows you backup your computer to another remote computer (e.g. a friend or family member) for free.
detects and backs up new and changed files, supports bandwidth
throttling for background backups. The free account allows 2Gb of
SugarSync: Features: real-time upload of changes, sync with multiple computers, sharing and collaboration, and remote file access.