You hear a lot of talk nowadays about off-site, internet based backup systems; usually in the form of software that automatically backs up selected files for you over the internet, and stores them on a secure, encrypted server. This type of backup is also known as a "cloud based backup solution". While I strongly believe that most people still use external hard drives or USB flash devices for storage, I can see a growing trend of people moving to off-site backup solutions. In my professional opinion, cloud based backup solutions are a far better option than your standard external storage device, and here's why: As hard drive storage capacity gets larger and larger, there is a higher potential for data loss or hard drive failure. In this study by DeepSpar we can see that 38% of data loss is caused by physical hard drive failure, and 30% to hard drive read errors. So it's safe to say that 68% of ALL data loss is due to defects and flaws in the hard drives themselves. So then why put yourself at risk for what is--according to the study--a very likely chance your external hard drive backup will fail too? Here are some additional reasons why you should change your backup habits, and upgrade to an off-site solution:
1) Set it, and forget it
Though many external storage devices have this same system, off-site backup solutions are designed specifically for this purpose; usually bringing a higher level of ease, and efficiency. Immediately after the install you are ready to start your first backup; no training required. The software is very easy to use and only requires a few clicks to get rolling. Once the initial configuration is complete, you don't have to worry about manually selecting files for backup. Just continue to use your computer normally, and the software will do the rest.
2) Safety & Security
One of the most important reasons to get a off-site backup solution is the safety factor. You can sleep easy knowing that your data is securely encrypted, and stored on a sophisticated server with redundant backups in place; better technology than you can possibly get at your home or small business. If, God forbid, you have an unrecoverable system crash or disaster situation to deal with, your important data is easily available from the off-site server. All it takes is a re-installation of the software, and a hit of the "restore" button. You'll save yourself precious down time and the loss of crucial business files.
On average, a decent sized external hard drive will cost you between $59 - $99 bucks; which isn't bad, but remember the study. If your hard drive fails or USB stick shorts out, you not only have to replace it, but may also have to pay for an expensive data recovery service. That can cost you thousands of dollars that could have been prevented by a bit of proper preparation. Typically, most cloud and off-site backup services charge a very reasonable yearly cost, with pre-determined storage limit. Some, like Carbonite, even offer a small yearly fee with no data storage limit; great for home businesses. Many other companies offer low cost storage by the gigabyte that can be increased on-the-fly, to keep up with your growing needs.
Great cloud/off-site backup companies
I hope I was able to express how important it is to have an off-site backup solution, as opposed to an antiquated external hard drive, USB flash, or tape backup option. So, the question is now: What company do I choose? Well, lucky for you, I have had experience with a vast number of backup companies over the years offering such solutions. Here are a few that I recommend to my clients. Both are great options; it all comes down to what your individual needs are.
Mozy is a great company that offers low-cost, per-gigabyte storage solutions for businesses. They provide a managed solution that allows remote administration for the needs of companies with many users, or vast amounts of data.
Carbonite offers a tier based storage solution that charges yearly for a pre-configured amount of storage. This solution is very efficient and cost effective for small to medium sized businesses with just a few computers.