Why Offsite Backup Is a “Must”

By Marilynne Rudick on August 25, 2011

My near-death experience occurred on January 2, 2005. I returned from a weekend away to find that my computer had crashed. I managed to retrieve most of my data. But it took several weeks and many hours on the phone with tech support in India, the Philippines, and Texas. My life was in total disarray until my computer was once again up and running.

I had been a haphazard backer-upper. After the crash I became evangelical. Currently, I have two backups. I use Apple’s Time Machine to back up the files on my iMac to a separate hard drive. But what if there’s a fire, theft, or garden-variety power spike that wipes out my computer and onsite backup?

My second backup system is in the clouds. That means my data is backed up on an offsite server. I can retrieve my files using any browser.

Should the unthinkable occur, I can download all my data from the server to my computer. If I accidentally delete a file or a file is corrupted, I can retrieve only that file from my offsite backup.

The growing number of companies that offer offsite backup can make the task of selecting one daunting, but SugarSyncCarbonite, and Mozy are good places to start. All three are easy to use and inexpensive: free to about $75 a year for a home user or small business. Price depends on the amount of data and the number of computers you’re backing up.

How Offsite Backup Works

Once you sign up, the service immediately starts uploading your data to its server. Uploading is significantly slower than downloading. Depending on the amount of data, the initial backup can take several hours or even days. You can continue to use your computer while it’s backing up. When complete, your offsite backup replicates the file structure of your hard drive.

Once the initial uploading is complete, your data is backed up automatically whenever you make changes to a file. If your system crashes or you need to restore a file, you just login to the server and access your password-protected data. These systems don’t back up your software. You’ll have to reload from the install disks. Email backup is iffy—cumbersome to nonexistent.

Anytime Anywhere Access

Most systems let you access your data from any computer and a growing number of mobile devices. If you’re traveling, there’s no need to load files onto your flash drive. You can access files anywhere, anytime from the company’s server.

Bells and Whistles

How do you choose a backup system? You’ll probably be happy with any of the three companies. All offer free trials.  But since you have to upload all your files to the company’s server to begin the free trial, you probably won’t want to switch.

Choose SugarSync for File Sharing

In addition to providing backup, all three companies enable you to share your files as email attachments. SugarSync also allows you to share designated files with another SugarSync user. That’s a valuable feature if you are sharing a large number of files or large files that might crash your email.

Choose Carbonite for Customer Service

Mozy, Carbonite and SugarSync all offer tutorials, a knowledgebase, and email support. Mozy and SugarSync offer phone support free for their more expensive plans or for an additional fee for home users. Carbonite includes online chat and phone support for all its plans, not just for more expensive small business plans. It also offers remote assistance—a tech can control your system to diagnose and fix a problem.

Choose Mozy for Two-For-One Backup

Mozy will automatically back up your data to an external hard drive and to its server at the same time. You don’t even have to install additional software for the hard drive.

Offsite Backup: A No-Brainer!

If you don’t have offsite backup, you’re living on borrowed time. Why risk losing important data or irreplaceable photos when you can easily and inexpensively protect your files? Remember the old saying: There are two types of computer users: those who back up and those who will!

Categories: Safety & Privacy

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