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.

Five questions you must ask when evaluating online backup solutions

March 23, 2010

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?

2. What happens if you go over your transfer limit? If you choose a plan that involves paying a monthly fee for a specified maximum data transfer, what happens if you go over that limit. Check the terms and conditions of any service you’re considering before you sign-up.

you will be ready to sign-up safe in the knowledge that you’ve chosen the best possible online backup solution for your needs.

3. How secure is your data? Most online backup solutions encrypt the data you upload before it leaves your computer and keep it encrypted while it’s stored. But they don’t all offer the same level of encryption. If your data is particularly sensitive or your especially paranoid, you’ll want the one with the highest number before ‘-bit encryption.’

4. How easy is it to restore your data? It’s all very well happily backing up your beloved files, but what if the worst happens and you need to access the backup? Some services, like Carbonite, create a virtual disk (on WIndows computers) which you can navigate and copy from like any other volume on your desktop. Others offer a web interface, and Mozy even offers to send you files on DVD if you live in the US. At the very least, you want to be able to locate a specific file and easily copy it back to your computer.

5. What happens to your data when you leave? It might seem strange think about this one before you’ve even signed up, but you should, particularly if your data is in anyway sensitive. Is it deleted from the company’s serves immediately, or does it take time to be removed? How secure is the deletion process?

By the time you’ve answered all these questions, you will be ready to sign-up safe in the knowledge that you’ve chosen the best possible online backup solution for your needs.

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