Categorized | Featured Articles, Guides

Four Reasons Why You Should Consider Online Backups

Whether you’re a blogger, an internet marketer or just a mobile worker chances are; you spend a great deal of time on the move, working off your laptop, for many of us; having the ability to work from anywhere is a luxury that we enjoy. But are we taking adequate measures to make sure our data is safe and protected? Being on the move means that we’re prone to losing our laptops at any time, and the need for having backups is further compounded by the fact that many of us will be using inexpensive netbooks which tend to come equipped with the cheapest hard drives and components money can buy, in order to stamp down on costs, and keep prices low.

Backup, backup, backup!

Nothing is more stressful and draining than having to redo weeks or months worth of work, I personally wouldn’t have the energy to rewrite an important blog post that I spent 2 or 3 hours writing, and don’t get me started on having to redo my accounts [don’t we all love doing out accounts], or losing contact details of all my workers or pending work due, or losing valuable documents that I need for my day to day business activities.

A good backup regime includes the minimum of

1. Keeping monthly backups of your entire hard drive, hard drive images are underestimated, using a free software package like clonezilla will enable you to restore your computer to exactly the state it was when you took the backup. Write the backups on external media such as DVD-R discs and make sure the data is encrypted or store them in a safe or locked away in a case.

2. Keep weekly or even daily backups of all your important project files on a secondary partition or better on a USB flash drives, USB flash drives are great simply plug in and drag and drop the files onto external media, clonezilla will automate the process for you.

3. Consider getting online backup, there are numerous free options out there which are sufficient for your more important files, OpenDrive gives 5GB for free and Mozy, SugarSync [now provide 5gb free], ElephantDrive offer 2GB for free. I like OpenDrive and SugarSync because they allow me to synchronise my data between different devices.

Why Backup Online?

With the rise of high speed internet and growing trend towards cloud computing, computer users have a wide array of various different online backup services to choose from. What’s great is that many of these services aren’t just great from online backup, but are also fantastic for managing, sharing and synchronizing your data too, some of the advantages are as follows.

1) Automatic backup
All backup is performed automatically, and files are uploaded into the online backup/storage service as soon as you’re done editing the file, this is worlds apart from conventional backup where you needed to execute and monitor the backup.

2) Versioning history
Online backup services allows users to have previous versions of files saved in case there are edits or omissions made to the latter files that you wish to undo.

3) Cheap and flexible
Now we all loathe continuity membership fees, however with online backups it actually works out to be a lot cheaper to backup online than on a external hard drive, dvd drive or even the aging tape drive. If you consider hardware replacement it easily exceeds the $60 per annum fee for online backup services. Server like Mozy offer unlimited storage space on the home plans (designed for one user).

4) Synchronisation ability between devices
Services like SugarSync, Dropbox and OpenDrive allow users to synchronise data between computers, as soon as you save the file on your laptop for instance, the backup utility will immediately start uploading the file onto the backup service, and once completed your other computer will begin download the file. This means no more swapping files via USB sticks, no more headaches with making edits to outdated files; you’ll simply have the latest version of the file available on any computer you use.

For example this blog post was written in notepad on my 10 inch netbook, then saved on my sync folder it was automatically uploaded to my online storage, and when I got back to my apartment, I fired up my iMac and the draft post was already loaded onto my hard drive and I was able to edit it in word to make edits and corrections and send it to the webmaster for publishing.

I have personally tested SugarSync and it fits my needs fine, I no longer have any concerns about working off my laptop from Starbucks or Nero, knowing that whatever happens at least my files are safe and that’s the most valuable thing for me. A macbook can be replaced but my time and work cannot.

Drawbacks of Online Backup

1) Slow to begin with
Depending on the amount of data you are backing up, you’ll find that most DSL providers cap the upload speed to around 10% of the download rate. Which means if you’re backing up copious amount of data (say over 10GB) It can take you a month or so to complete. Although download is a lot faster so recovery may not be as slow, additionally only the modified files are uploaded so it does get easier.

2) Can you trust “the cloud”?
While online backup companies do promise you encrypted storage and connection, you are still storing your valuable data onto someone elses computer, and it’s up to you to decide whether you are comfortable with that, people have arguments for and against and it’s down to your personal choice at the end of the day.

3) Requires internet access
This is pretty obvious but quite an essential point, if you’re away from 3G (and wifi) coverage, or in secure zones a lot like airports, or generally work in a country with very slow internet like Thailand for instance, online backup may not be the best option for you. I work with excel spreadsheets which climb to just over 1MB in size, and my online backup service always uploads the file after every edit. Now this works out great for me right now with my superfast 20MB connection, however this would not be ideal if I was on a slower internet connection.

Leave a Reply