We have talked a good deal over the past months about the importance of keeping regular backups of your files. Don’t lose your data; keep your pictures safe; be able to use Time Machine, yada yada. But an alternative to a regular physical backup solution is a Cloud based one where your backup is… you guessed it, in the Cloud.
To those who are new to this idea, or have heard this phrase thrown around without much context, a Cloud backup is identical to using an external hard drive except your data is stored in a virtual space accessible on the Internet. The way it works is a cloud based backup company has a set of servers with an inordinate amount of storage space available to them, and, like a landlord, rents out that space for you to use and access at your leisure. As long as you pay the rent, they never come around and that virtual space is yours for the duration. It’s like a second home for your data!
As with any alternative there are some interesting pros and cons that come along with this type of backup:
- Your files are accessible anywhere that you have Internet.
- There is no need to plug in an external drive and extra storage space is always available as an upgrade.
- Any disaster at your house won’t affect your data.
- There is a monthly or yearly subscription fee depending on the service and plan.
- The initial backup takes FOREVER! (In my case it took nearly two weeks at only 50 GB).
- There is an increase in bandwidth usage and processing power to keep your system synced and up to date.
- Your files are in the hands of someone else, albeit encrypted.
- You must install an operating system first before you can restore after a system failure.
- The company you choose might not be around in a few years rendering previous backups useless.
With all of this in mind, what I find to be most beneficial in using a cloud-based strategy is the concept of offsite backups. My backup hard drive can fail in the same power surge as my computer and I know a second copy of my files is safe in the Cloud, stored hundreds of miles away. Regardless of what happens next to my computer my data is never lost; redundancy is key to computer backups.
Now, while it’s great to have files accessible online with a simple login, there are many other services such as Dropbox or box.net that will accomplish the same thing without having your entire system in the cloud. When crafting a complete backup solution you have to ask yourself what files are most important to you.
If it’s just documents, a few pictures and less than 5 GB of data, almost all of these services offer that storage free just for signing up. If it’s home movies, large image projects, original music, or other irreplaceable data that changes often, a full service cloud backup option is something important to consider. $50 a year is a small price to pay for the peace of mind of having a failsafe to your current backup strategy.
Stay backed up my friends.