Evaluating Backup Options (Again)

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Something I try to stay on top of is regularly backing up the important data on our computers. Keeping our photos safe is paramount! Regular and automated backups of all our photos, documents, and other files is important.

I think everybody has seen the same sort of growth as Sherree and I have in disk space requirements. As time goes by we save more photos, Word documents, e-mail, finances, and other files than we did the year before. Hard disk sizes keep growing to meet these needs, too — just a few years ago a 200 GB disk was big, and standard. Now, a 750 GB disk is commonplace.

And so, I need to keep a copy of all this data somewhere, in case things go wrong. An external disk or two make it easy to keep a copy nearby, which is a great option for when you realize you overwrote a file or want the peace of mind that if your primary drive should fail you’ve still got that external disk.

Something I am conscious of is that an external disk won’t help if there’s a fire or theft. Storing files off-site is necessary to really be safe. For years I have always taken backup DVDs into the office and stored them in a desk drawer. I didn’t do this as often as I should have, but it made me feel good to know that if something happens at home at least I’ve got the past 6 years of documents, even if I’m missing the past 6 months!

Since I started working from home, however, I don’t have the same opportunity. I need somewhere else to store off-site backups. One of the options I’ve started looking at is online backup tools.

I’m trying Mozy at the moment. They offer 2 GB of backup space for free (plenty to try it out) and if you sign up through my referral link you’ll get an extra 0.25 GB for free. Mozy has an application you install on your Windows or Mac, and that’s where you can specify what files and folders to backup. Restoring is equally easy — just use their application to pick the files to restore and go. The only feature that I really feel is missing is scheduled backups, because Mozy inevitably wants to start a backup at the time it will annoy me most; scheduling is a feature of MozyPro.

A problem with all online backup tools that became immediately obvious to me is speed. Even with a “high speed” Internet connection backing up or restoring a 25 or 50 MB file is slow. Smaller files are quick enough, but chances are good that you’ll still have many files in your backup job that add up to something notable… which means it still takes a while. Similarly, the initial backup you create will take a very long time to complete. There are drawbacks to every backup method, it seems, though I think online backup is still a good option.

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