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Backup your data online? January 27, 2009

Posted by Mike in End User Computing.
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In our first issue of Plugged In,  I wrote about “Cloud Computing”, the up & coming practice of using software online vs. installed on your computer.

Today, I’m going to touch on another form of Cloud Computing in the sense of backing up your data online vs. using local external harddrives or thumbdrives.

I’ll admit that I’m probably as guilty as most people, in that it’s rare for me to run consistent backups. What’s on my machine that’s most important to me?

  • documents
  • iTunes library
  • Photos

If something were to happen to my harddrive & those three catagories of data were lost, I’d be a pretty unhappy person.  I’ve already learned my lesson with email, which is why I use Gmail now (over 3,500 messages & I’m barely scratching the surface of my allotted space)

Ones choices to backup their data are either an online service or external hard drive. Let’s take a quick look at each option.


This is an online, fee based service from Apptix. For as low as $6.50 /month (5GB of data) you can have your data backed up & stored online. How does it work? Upon registration, you install a simple application, tell it what directories you want backed up & when, then go about your business. At the designated time, your data is uploaded & stored, encrypted & completely safe.  To restore your data, you select what you want restored & it’s downloaded back onto your computer.

Local devices (USB thumbdrive, external harddrive)

I’ll call this the more conventional method. Flash drives, also referred to as thumbdrives,  are very inexpensive. You can pick up a 16gb drive at Buy.com for less than $35.00. On the high end, a 1 terabyte external hard drive would set you back about $130.00. How much data is 1TB? It’s about the equivalent of 50,000 trees made into paper & printed.

Pros & Cons

I’m going to remain neutral & say that, in my opinion both options are fine & your situation & personal level of comfort should dictate which one to go with. The worst thing you can do is neither.

Here are some things to consider when deciding:

  • How much data do you have? If you have less than 5 gigabytes of data, is it worth $6.50 a month? After the initial installtion, the service will run as scheduled & you never need to worry about it. However for large amounts of data, it might not be feasible to upload that much data because it would take too long.
  • Are there legal reasons you need to store your data locally?
  • What if the online service goes under? How would you get your data back?
  • External harddrives crash just like internal ones, thumb drives get lost or accidentally run through the laundry (no comment) – what do you do then?

I hope you enjoyed this article & found it helpful. Backup your data today!