Backups – Hack It #4

Keep copies
Backups are an essential feature of any IT installation.

You’ve got to have backups. Not backing up is a ridiculous, unnecessary risk.

The average hard drive has a 20% chance of failure each year. How would you fare if your computer was stolen, or melted in a fire? If you don’t have a plan for data recovery, you are asking for trouble.

It shouldn't happen to you!

Try to put a value on losing everything on your hard drive, and remember that fires, robberies and hardware failure are all out of your control.

For instance, a friend recently lost all his photos. Over 10 years worth of memories, gone forever! Man, he was sad.

These days there are great, inexpensive options for backups.

Option 1: buy an external hard drive.
This is a big improvement on not backing up at all, however, there’s a problem. If you keep the external drive with your computer, you’re not covering all the bases.

Any localized event, such as a natural disaster or robbery, will render your backup solution useless.

If you copy your data off your computer, then take your external hard drive away to another location, then this is a fine solution. Otherwise, it’s not recommended.

Option 2: online backup
In recent times, some very competitive options have sprung up. This stores your data safely away from your computer, so this is a winner – you can’t lose both in the one event. The main factor in my opinion is security.

  • Mozy – unlimited storage for $4.95/month.
  • Carbonite – unlimited storage for $49.95/year.
  • Amazon S3 – incremental storage of 15c/GB/month. This is not on its own a backup solution. You need a user-friendly client to connect you to their backup service. For instance, JungleDisk.

I chose S3 and JungleDisk, primarily for security reasons. Most solutions tell you that your data is safe and encrypted, but that they can recover your data if you lose your password.

This means that if the company is hacked, or if you don’t trust company employees, your data is vulnerable. JungleDisk has the option to encrypt your data before it leaves your computer, and cannot be decrypted without your password.

It’s worth pointing out, that with Amazon’s incremental pricing, if you only need to backup a few gigs, then you’ll be paying less than $1/month to keep your data safe.

It’s a tiny price to pay for the guarantee that your data will not be lost.

3 Responses to “Backups – Hack It #4”

  1. Zippyfish says:

    Good article. Hmm, seems like a pretty smart idea to back up in more than one place. I should probably also stop using my external hard drive to crush garlic, and just get a mortar and pestle.

  2. peter says:

    Hi Zippyfish,

    Location independence is one of the essentials of an effective backup, so an external HDD usually wouldn’t cut it.

    I’m surprised that your external HDD makes an effective garlic crusher; the flexibility of modern technology continues to amaze.

  3. Arthur K says:

    Carbonite encrypts your files at the point of leaving your PC and whilst being stored remotely. You can also select your own user -defined private encryption key. Blowfish encryption algorithm with a 1024 bit key is the method used to encrypt the data prior to sending.

    If anyone is interested in a free 90 trial, please let me know.

Leave a Reply