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Do Away With Discs and Drives; Backup Your Data Online

Odds are, at some point the hard drive on your computer is going to fail. Statistically, we know this, yet most of us don’t regularly backup our computer files. For those who do, the traditional way of backing up photos, documents and other digital keepsakes is on physical media – CD, DVD, flash drive, hard drive, etc. As you may know, this method has some serious downsides. For starters, all storage media (even hard drives and flash drives) can fail over time, so you need to keep more than one backup if you want to be fully covered in the event of a digital catastrophe. Second, backing up to multiple drives or discs on a regular basis can be time consuming. Finally, you need to keep your backups in a different location than your originals to protect you in case of fire, flood, power surges, etc. This makes backing up daily or even weekly very burdensome. With all of these hurdles, it’s no wonder we don’t backup our files.

There is, however, an easier way. Online backup services stream your data over the Internet to off-site servers where, for $5 to $10 per month, someone else keeps your data safe and secure. Software on your computer regularly sends backups to the servers, where it’s available anytime you need it. Backups are easy and automatic – just set it and forget it.

Backing up your data online offers several advantages:

  • Off-site storage: Keep your backup data in a different physical location than your originals.
  • No hardware required: The data is transmitted over your broadband connection, which means you don’t need any special hardware or storage media.
  • Automatic backups: Remembering to perform regular backups and taking the time to do them are the biggest obstacles to backing up your files. With an online backup solution, you can schedule regular or “live” backups.
  • It’s secure: You have the option of password-protecting your data.
  • Anywhere access: Most online backup services let you access your backed up data from any Web browser, some even offer apps for your smartphone or tablet PC.
Here are a few considerations when deciding among an online backup provider:

  • What type of solution do you need? Do you want to back up certain files or all of your data? Paid services like Carbonite, Norton and SOS have monthly or annual service fees, yet offer a more comprehensive solution than the no-cost sites. Free “cloud sync” sites like Dropbox or Box.net offer online data storage but are really more geared toward sharing and collaboration.
  • Will you be backing up one computer or several? Not all services allow you to back up multiple computers. Others charge extra for additional computers. If you have more than one computer in your house or small office, you’ll want to look for a service that can keep all of your computers’ backups together.
  • Do you need to backup external hard drives? If you have an external hard drive or network attached storage (NAS) drive, you’ll want to look for a solution that can back up from external sources as well as your computer’s internal hard drive.
  • Do you need unlimited storage space? You will pay extra for unlimited storage with some of the service providers, though you may not need it. Count your bytes first before you decide to splurge for an unlimited data plan.
  • Do you need live backups? Some online storage solutions continuously save data to the server, while others save data on a specified schedule. Continuous updates may be important if you are in the business of regularly creating or editing documents or files.
  • Do you want a to access your data from a mobile device? If so, look for an online storage service that offers a mobile app.
Conclusion: Online backup services offer an easy, fool-proof way to keep your data safely backed up and accessible from any computer or mobile device.

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