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Off-Site and Cloud Storage

Tom from CA writes:

Follow up on the storage drives question. What about off-site storage and cloud storage?

Off-site and cloud-based storage are a great way to backup information you need to a remote place, just in case the unthinkable happens.

“What kind of unthinkable things could happen, Tim? I backup to a external hard drive connected to my computer so I’m safe, right?”

So what can you do to protect the REALLY critical non-replaceable information? The best way to handle this is to have cloud-based or off-site storage.

Cloud based storage transfers certain information (usually a directory you choose) to a company’s servers and syncs that information with every computer that logs on to your account. The most popular of these services is Dropbox [1], which offers 2 GB of storage for free and plans starting at $9.99 a month for 100 GB of data. The great thing about Dropbox is that it’s as simple as saving files to your Dropbox folder – the rest is done automatically. You can even access your files by logging into your Dropbox account on the web. Dropbox with 2 GB of storage is available for free by clicking here [2].

Off-Site storage works very similar to cloud storage, but usually includes full system backups and more storage space. Off-Site storage isn’t meant so much to share and sync files between computers as much as it’s meant to backup your files in case of complete system failure. The simplest off-site storage is the physical kind where you put a USB flash drive or external hard drive in a safe at the bank or a friend’s house after your done copying files to it.

The online method of Off-Site backup involves transferring your files over the internet to a company’s servers. Companies such as Mozy [3], which offer 50GB for $5.99 a month or 125 GB for $9.99 a month, provide software that will automatically backup your files and information to their servers over the internet. Mozy also offers some benefits, like automatic backup, encrypted backups and online file restoration functions not generally available with regular cloud-based sharing sites. Mozy offers a free trial available by clicking here [4].

Which service is right for you? Well that depends on the amount of information you want to backup and how you want to manage the data transfer. Personally, I store an external hard drive in my bank’s safe that I transfer files to once a month, but the convince factor of a service like Dropbox or Mozy is making me think about signing up.