If what’s on Your Computer is Important to You, Use an Online Backup Service

When is the last time you did a full backup of your computer?

If the answer is “I don’t know”, “never,” “it’s on my todo list” or “do I really need to?”

STOP what you’re doing right now – Read this post – Review the 3 online backup services below – and then SIGN UP.

How would you feel if you woke up tomorrow morning and everything on your computer was GONE?
All those pictures you have taken over the last couple of years? The project you have been working on for months.

This is not the kind of thing that happens to someone else.

  • Hard drives fail without warning.
  • Even when you are careful viruses can get through.
  • And nobody wants to think about their computer being stolen or their house burning down. It happens.

Automatic backups are easy to set-up, and unbelievably inexpensive when compared to the alternative.

Local – Hard Drive backup – vs. Online – Cloud – backup.

Hard Drive Back-up

The Advantages:  It’s local, It sits right next to your computer. You don’t have to be online to access it.  You can use the hard drive for automated backups and you can use it to create an archive of files you want to keep, but don’t need to be on your hard drive.

Disadvantages: It’s local, It sits right next to your computer.  If there is a physical event that affects your computer (fire, theft, earthquake)  the same thing may happen to your hard drive.  While you can use automatic back-up software, many people don’t, thinking that they’ll remember to do it once a week.

Online – Cloud – backup

The Advantages:  Set it and forget it. Once you set it up it runs automatically.  My system backs up when my computer is idle for more than 30 minutes. I have a backup of every changed file within hours.  That means if I accidently erase the wrong version of something I am working on, I can restore an earlier version.

You can access your files from anywhere. If you are meeting with a client and realize that something you need is on your office computer, you used to be out of luck. Now it’s also on your backup and you can download it to your phone or in a clients office.

Disadvantages: There really aren’t any. Your data is as secure as anything is online. It’s encrypted and transmitted over a secure connection.  The backup service will make backups of your backups so you are protected.

Note:  If you have files that are very important there’s nothing wrong with keeping multiple backups or archive copies.  

Don’t confuse backup copies and archive copies.

A backup is like a snapshot of your computer at a particular time.  It makes copies of the files on your computer. If a file is deleted from your hard disk it will stay on your back-up for a designated period of time (often 30-60 days) and then it is removed, since it’s no longer a copy of something on your hard disk.

If you are running out of space on your hard disk, and want to delete some files that you don’t need regular access to, (old records or photos)  but need to keep you must make archive copies and store them on a hard disk or with a cloud service like Dropbox or AmazonS3.

Once a file is deleted from your hard drive it is scheduled to be deleted from your backup.

Best backup services for individuals or small businesses.

All of these services will continuously back-up your system. When you initially set them up they will automatically select some files for backing up, but you can add additional files that you want included, or remove any that they selected that you don’t want backed up.

Carbonite.  Free 15 day trial for individuals. Backup 1 computer (Mac or Windows) unlimited storage starting at $59.99/year. Home Plus ($99.99) and Home Premier ($149.99) add additional features including backing up external hard drives and creating mirror image backups. (A duplicate copy of the data your hard drive on a local hard drive.) Plans for multiple computers start at $229.99/yr.

Key Features:  All plans have unlimited data capacity. Home Plus and Home Premier add external hard drives. Best for someone who only uses one computer. Multiple computers require separate individual plans, or you have to back one up to the other and then have that one backed up by Carbonite.  

CrashPlan. Free plan will automatically backup your computer(s) to another computer. This isn’t a cloud backup (meaning your data is stored by them) but a way to get an off-site backup. You can backup your home computer to your office, and vice versa, or make an arrangement with a friend to keep your backup and you keep theirs. Free trial for all paid plans. Cloud backup 1 computer (Mac or Windows) 10GB storage starting for 32.99/yr ($2/mo.) Backup 1 computer, unlimited storage at $59.99/year.   Backup 2-10 computers unlimited storage starting at $149.99/year.  Save 20% off first year of Crashplan. (This isn’t an affiliate link – meaning I don’t make a commission if you use it – but it will get you 20% off.)

Key Features:  All plans backup to multiple (onsite & offsite) destinations. Free plan and low –cost $2/mo plan. Family plan is a good deal for 3 or more computers.

Mozyhome. Free trial.  Backup one computer $5.99/mo up to 50GB, three computers $9,99/mo 125GB limit. Add additional computers and/or 20 GB storage for an additional $2/mo.

Key Features:  This can be a good deal if you have multiple computers and can stay within their space limits. 50 GB sounds like a lot, and a few years ago it was, but if you end up with multiple copies of files in different folders, or have lots of photos, video or music you can get to 50GB pretty quickly.