The world of data backup has changed forever. Gone are the endless disks of backed up data that you forgot to write the contents on the front of, gone are the hard disks buzzing away next to your desktop burning your electricity and rarely being used to ACTUALLY take a backup and gone are the feelings that either of these two options would have been better than finding yourself in the position where you have lost all of your data, but now you have. Web backup services are alive and well and coming to a PC or Mac near you for a very reasonable cost.
It’s ironic really, those who have lost data are a little like reformed smokers. They will often berate you for your poor backup discipline or no backup at all and, in the past, we could just ignore these people and get on with our journey to data disaster without a care in the world. But, this was in the days when backups were about storing boring emails, the letter you wrote to your boss to tell him you won the pengeluaran sgp or your budget from 10 years ago that you never stuck to.
Today our lives are different and, crucially, so if the data that we have. If you are bored then try adding up the file sizes of all the ‘important’ documents on your computer (please tell me you haven’t really tried that!) and then go and add up the file sizes of the photos that you took of your wedding, your kids growing up, or your family celebrating that lottery you won earlier. You will almost certainly find that the vast majority of your data today is personal, so personal that it would break your heart to lose it.
So, why, why, WHY, do we still take out insurance on our new fridge but don’t give a hoot about backing up our personal files? I suspect that is a little unfair – it’s not that we don’t give a hoot, it’s just that the process is too complicated, too expensive or too damn inconvenient.
Web backup could just change all of that. The online backup industry is no longer an expensive game for businesses only. Today we see the market expanding with the likes of Carbonite, Mozy and Backblaze offering unlimited web backup space to home and small business users for the price of a couple of pints of milk each month.
But, cost isn’t everything, cheap doesn’t mean you’ll use it (remember that low cost gym membership you are paying for every month?). What makes these services different and pushes online web backup products to the bleeding edge of the backup industry is the ease in which they work – or the fact that you don’t have to ACTUALLY do ANYTHING once they are set up (now that would be a great gym membership!) they do all the work for you.
All three of these wed backup products and the others that sit along side them have one thing in common (well, at least the good ones do) and that is the ‘fire and forget’ nature of the process. Each are available for both Mac and PC, you download a small application, tell it which files and folders you want to keep backed up and then you leave it to its own devices – voila!
The first web backup takes an age, sometimes a couple of days or more, but your don’t have to wait for it. The application works in the background and when it reckons that you have gone to turn the kettle on it gets on with backing your data up online. The data is encrypted on your machine before it is sent so there are no worries about security as both the transmission and storage are scrambled. The online backup itself is encrypted using a password that you choose so even the web backup company cannot decrypt it. Once the first full backup is done (slowly, ensuring that your computer is still usable and your internet connection doesn’t perform like an asthmatic ant carrying the shopping) then the process really starts to come together.
From this point on your web backup product will sit quietly in the background waiting for those tea breaks (go on, have another!) so that it can do a quick check to see if anything has changed. If it has then it works out the changes, encrypts the data and updates your online backup quickly, with no fuss and no interaction required by you.
If you need to get data back from your web backup then the method varies between software providers but is just as simple as the backup process itself. Carbonite and Mozy both provide a web interface for retrieving your data and Carbonite even allows you to get to it from other computers (with your password, of course) so that you can even use it to pick up files that you forgot to bring in to the office with you! Mozy and Backblaze also offer a service where they will burn your data and send it to you on a DVD for a small fee.
So, backups you don’t have to remember to do, made in the time when you are sleeping or watching the sport and stored on a device that is so far away that your other half wont complain about it cluttering up the desk – what is there not to love!
Online backup also solves one of the other downsides of traditional backup solutions – your web backup is stored remotely so if your house gets broken in to or burns to the ground then your data, in particular the family photos you hold so close, are safe.
This all costs money, but not a lot (usually a few dollars or pounds a month) and it’s not difficult to justify – here’s why. When you buy an external hard drive you will probably pay a reasonable amount for it but, in two years time, you will probably need to update it. With web backup products the monthly cost is so low that you will almost certainly pay less in two years than you paid for your hard drive, plus, you don’t have to pay the electricity to run it, you don’t have to update it or replace it when it crashes and as data sizes increase (more mega-pixels on your camera or a new swanky video thingy) then the services will adapt meaning you get what you need and without compromise.
We backup is just great and the products are getting better. It’s certainly worth a look.
I give you these thoughts as someone who has lost data, and the sort of data that makes you weep. So, i’ve learned the hard way and now I’m one of those annoying reformed data backup people who makes you want to run from the room. Just make sure you are running because you are bored of me and not because, niggling in the back of your mind, is the fact that you haven’t backed up your stuff and you’ve left the kids at home playing on your shiny Apple Mac!