May 012012

Backing up your computer, if you value what’s on it such as documents and pictures, should be a top priority of yours. There are several ways to do this yourself or by utilizing an online backup service.  As with anything, there are pros and cons of online backup services but I do believe they are well worth it in the long run.

One never knows when the time will come that their computer will crash – and trust me – it will crash – right down to the hard drive.  Of course, the power supply can die, motherboards can fry, and disk drives can fail – at the most inopportune time.  This, I’ve learned this the hard way.

When one seriously sits down and thinks about the best way to back up their computer – it’s really a no brainer that an online computer backup service is the best for several reasons:

  • Backing up to CD’s/DVD’s can be expensive if you have a lot of files.  Not to mention that these backup medias can be scratched and storing them takes up space.
  • Flash drives – they are nice if you need something handy, but these too can fail and only have a certain shelf life depending on the brand and the way it’s used.
  • External hard drives – these too will eventually fail.  And what if this fails before your internal hard drive does?  Now you’ve got to get another before the internal hard drive decides it’s gonna die.  These also require you to place what data you want on it – taking up your time.
  • In laptops, external hard drives drain the battery.
Pros of online services:
  • Your computer is being backed up all the time.
  • You can access your files from anywhere.
  • The files never go away or get deleted unless you do the deleting.
  • Files can be restored most generally
  • There’s no storing of anything – CD’s, DVD’s, flash drives, hard drives
  • If there’s a fire (God forbid), your files and pictures are all safe
  • Files are organized
Cons of an online service:
  • Your system may be slow during backups
  • Monthly or yearly charges – but think about what you’d spend using the alternatives – and the peace of mind you’ll have not worrying when to fit ‘that’ backup into your schedule, or the fact that you can access your files from anywhere.
  • The speed of backing up is limited to what your Internet connection is

So how do you choose a service? 

  • Cost – they aren’t all the same
  • Reputation – research and ask around
  • How much data can be stored – most have several plans to chose from
  • Being able to chose which files you want to back up – not all files are necessary to back up – so why waste that valuable space?
  • Support – yes, you’d want one that can provide you support when you need it.
  • Automation is key – you don’t want to have to remember to go do it
  • If you need open files and databases backed up then you’ll want a service that does this, and not all do.
  • The service HAS to have encryption during transfers and while stored on the remote server, and possibly password protected access if need be
  • How many computers can you use the service on?  Ultimately, you’d want to be able to run the application without any limits so you can sync files.
  • Are you able to backup and restore from locations other than your main computer?
  • Lastly, if there are issues with the service, will you be notified?
I’ve tried free versions of several different services – some I liked better than others, and I will say I detest Windows Live Skydrive – way too much work for me.  That being said, why not try a couple of different ones to see what works best for you?  One I’ve tried is Mimedia (offers 7gb free) and today (5/1/12) you can sign up for MyPCBackup – free.  I’ve tried another but can’t for the life of me remember which one it was.  I can tell  you I didn’t like it as I removed it from my computer.

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