Meet Chuck

Chuck once had a very nasty accident with a back-up hard drive and whole lot of critical data. So now he backs up his data online. That has the added bonus of allowing him to access his data wherever he is in the world — and Chuck gets around. And he can synchronise it across machines.

By now, hopefully, you’ve accepted the wisdom of online data storage backup. You feel ready to choose an online backup solution and begin uploading all that valuable data. But hold your horses, you’re not quite ready yet, grasshopper. You will be, though, as soon as you’ve read and digested these five morsels of advice.

1. How much does it cost. Yes, yes, I know it sounds bleedin’ obvious, but I don’t just mean the upfront cost. I’m talking about the TCO (that’s total cost of ownership). To grasp that, you’ll need to take the monthly cost and check what that relates to. Do you get unlimited data transfer, or is there a limit?

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Here’s a great real-life example of why you need to back up offline as well as online. In this instance it was Dropbox which came to John Gruber’s rescue, but Mozy, Carbonite, or Crash Plan would have done the same job just as well.

Yes. Another Backup Lecture.:

Daring Fireball: An Ode to DiskWarrior, SuperDuper, and Dropbox

Hard drives are fragile. Read as much as you can bear to about how they work, how incredibly precisely they must operate in order to cram so many bits onto such small disks. It’s a miracle to me that they work at all. Every hard drive in the world will eventually fail. Assume that yours are all on the cusp of failure at all times. It’s good to be spooked about how long your hard drives will last.

John’s article, advice, and success story about doing smart backup is exactly the reminder that a lot of people need to hear right this second. Because, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of automated, redundant, and rotated backups. Trust me. You will need them all. Soon. Repeatedly. Forever. Always.

(Via 43 Folders.)

If you’ve decided it’s time to invest in online backup software, then you’ll already know there are number of options available to you. One of the best known is Carbonite which has been available for Windows for sometime and last year became available on Mac OS X.

I took advantage of Carbonite’s free trial to give the service a test run. Carbonite charges you an annual fee once you’ve decided to extend your subscription beyond the trial period. This is different to some other online backup services which charge you according to the amount of data you upload — there’s no limit to the amount of data you can backup with Carbonite.

Read the rest of the Carbonite online software review

Choosing a home online backup service is very much like choosing a online backup software for business use. You decide which files you need to backup online, workout how big they are collectively and then compare the prices and features of vendors like Mozy, Carbonite, and CrashPlan.

There is, however, one key difference. While CrashPlan and Carbonite both offer 30-day trials which allow you to try their service free of charge for a month, MozyHome takes a different approach. It allows you to back up 2GB of data every month for free. There’s no trial period and no expiry date. If you need more than 2GB, the payment option kicks in. If you don’t, you can continue to use it free of charge for as long as you like.

Read more about how to choose a home online back up service

Which online data storage backup service is right for you? There are lots to choose from, so how do you make sure you choose the right one.

Well, the best approach is obviously to try them all, or at least all those which have a free trial or allow you to store a limited amount of data for free. But that’s not always possible or convenient. Often speed is of the essence when choosing online data storage backup and so here are a few pointers to help you make the right decision.

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Want to know which is the best online backup service? Well, I’m afraid, the answer is that it depends. It depends on what you need from online backup. It depends on what kind of computer you have, on how many computers you need to back up, how much data you need to back up, and myriad other details.

Although all the well known back up services work in a similar way — they first back up all the data you want to protect then incrementally upload files that are new or have changed since the last back up according to a schedule specified by you — they all do it, and charge for it, in a slightly different way. And, just as importantly, their method of recovering lost data is unique to them.

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Do you think online data backup is a luxury? Think again. Would you leave the door to your house unlocked when you go out? What about your car. Would you park that and leave the door open? No, of course you wouldn’t. Yet thousands of businesses and individuals do the equivalent with their data.

By failing to implement a consistent, secure, methodical backup strategy, you risk losing all your data.

On-site Backup isn’t Enough

Don’t think that because you have a regular backup to an external hard dive, DVD disc, or even tape, that your data is secure. If the backup is stored on site, it’s just as vulnerable to fire, flood, or a lightning strike.

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