You've likely heard it before (I hope you have!), but backing up your computer files can be extremely important. Sure, it seems like your computer is working fine now, and nothing will ever happen...until it actually does, and suddenly you realize you can't get to the photo/file/whatever you need. So what's the best way to back up your files?
I've been playing with a few different methods lately, and honestly, it depends on several things--what you're trying to back up, how much you want to spend, and, in the end, personal preference of your media type.
(Please note--in this post I discuss personal backing up only. Businesses will likely have different needs and resources, although some of the online backup services do offer business-class service.)
- USBs/external hard drives - Can be portable, and have the appeal of a one-time purchase price as opposed to a monthly fee. However, you'll likely need to either manually back-up or set up an automated process. For Windows, there's some great free software, such as SyncToy, which will let you match or merge a folder on your computer with your USB at the click of a button.
Of course, no method of backup is infallible--there's always the chance that your drive could malfunction, so it's important to test the drive and make sure it's working properly every so often.
- Online backup - Online backup can be more expensive over the long-term, but also very convenient. With programs like Jungledisk, Mozy, and Carbonite, you can set backups to run automatically in the background of your computer while you're working. Some backup companies also have smart phone apps, so you can access your files on the go.
The thing about services like these is that your information is being transmitted over a secure connection, but I would still hesitate to store anything too personal or private on an online backup service--financial information, for example. If you're going to upload information like that, I highly recommend you password-protect the individual files, just for your own piece of mind. It's unlikely anyone would intercept your information during transfer, but not impossible. Also, keep in mind that these accounts are still username and password based--so if those were ever compromised, you would be giving that person direct access to your personal files. But, please keep in mind that I'm far from an expert on the security of these companies--I would just suggest reading through their security policies and making sure you're comfortable before signing up for the service.
The other thing about online backup is that it requires an internet connection to back up as well as to access your backed up files. This may or may not be an issue.
However, if you're looking for something easy and convenient, online backups can work wonderfully. There's definitely the peace of mind knowing your files are backing up automatically and you don't have to worry about it.
So what will you choose? How do you back up your files? Do you even see the need? If I threw your computer out the window right now, what files wouldn't you want to lose?
For a great article on file storage and using USBs/online services, also check out Unclutterer's "Fireproof Storage, Part 2".