Online Backup is relatively new option for computer backup when taken in the context of how long PC’s have been around (since 1981, 30 years now!). But online backup services have now been around long enough to trust the ‘cloud backup’ concept and backup your data remotely.
Most people understand that they MUST backup their computer or risk the inevitable hard drive crash, theft, fire, flood or other mishap with their computer. Storing your data on a server with redundant hard drives, like RAID5 arrays, certainly provide you with a great level of protection against hardware failure but do nothing to protect you from other risks to your data.
Conventional Computer Backup Methods
Let’s take a look at how people have been backing up for decades so we can get an idea what need online backup services are filling.
- Removable Disks: Floppy Disk backup was all there was in the early days. Floppy drive backup failures, from buying cheap disks or one of any number of hazards to the semi-fragile media, were frequent and frustrating. It was not long, though, before floppies were inadequate in size and replaced by more reliable removable media like Zip Disks. Zip was great for a while, but soon this larger but somewhat pricey alternative was soon impractical as well.
- Tape Backup: Tape backup was the standard for business and even many home computer backups for a very long time. Tape drives and tapes themselves were very expensive, and often tape software was bug ridden and unreliable. Many times a tape restore session would crash or just not succeed in retrieving the data one had hoped and expected to be available when needed. Tape size and speed increased over the years, but once multimedia files balloon backup sizes, most tape backups have been relegated to the recycle bin.
- Removable Hard Drives: Removable hard drives have the advantage of large capacity, high speed and high reliability but are a very expensive option, usually outside the reach of the home computer backup market. Depending on the hardware, removable hard drives are often loaded similarly to tape cassettes.
- External USB Hard Drives: Using an external USB hard drive to backup to has been popular in recent years, but typically only businesses will spend the high cost of having multiple drives. This is a fairly expensive option similar to the removable hard drives.
All of these conventional computer backup methods allow you to maintain ‘version’ backups, meaning you can save a copy of your data at a particular point in time. Depending on the cost of the ‘media’ you are using, this can be somewhat expensive.
The problem with all conventional backup methods is two-fold:
- Unless you have backup software that runs automatically, backups get performed (typically) on an irregular basis that is often far less frequently than the person doing the backup really thinks! This results in the problem of not having a RECENT backup when you really need it.
- The backup media is typically stored in the same vicinity as the computer holding the primary copies of the data. Very few home users and an alarming number of businesses actually take RECENT copies their backups off-site, regularly, to prevent having the same catastrophe that wipes out the original data from destroying any backups as well.
What Risks Do Conventional Backups Not Cover?
Online backup services have the ability to protect your data from these two very prominent risks mentioned above.
Online backup software is designed to run automatically; your only obligations are to make sure you have configured it to backup what you want to be able to restore and to regularly verify that it is operating as required. Most online backup software make it easy to check the status of your backups or send you alerts if they do not complete for some reason.
Second, online backup or ‘cloud backup’ options are inherently off-site backups. You will notice in many of the recommended vendors here at Online Backup Spot actually advertise their redundant, geographically disperse, high security data centers.
So with an online backup service your data is not at risk of not being backed up because no one ran the backup program nor is your data at risk from such ever more prevalent occurrences like:
- Fire (think wild fire, too)
- Theft or vandalism
- Flood (a portion of Australia the size of France & Germany combined was recently under water)
- Lockout from your business or residence because a neighbor (or lower floor) experienced a disaster
Experience Tells Us…
The team here at OnlineBackupSpot.com has been working with computer backup issues since 1984. Our experience tells us that the figures quoted by online backup vendors regarding how many people backup and how many have lost data are likely to be correct and believable.
So our recommendation to you is to take a look at the top online backup services that we would trust our data to and pick the one that best suits your data protection needs.