The Realm of the Verbal Processor

Jarvis's Ramblings

Online Backup

From time to time I get asked about what I would recommend for backup of data on your computer. My answer has changed over time. There are several factors to consider for backup of data…amount of data, worst case disaster recovery, ease of use, etc.

I used to recommend that people get an external hard drive for data backup. The problem with this is that people simply don’t run the backup and typically the drive never leaves the same house that the computer is in. If you have a fire/tornado/etc (worst case), then your backup is destroyed along with the original data.

Now I recommend one of two online backup services. They have different pluses/minuses. NOTE: a high speed internet connection (DSL/Cable Modem) is necessary for this option. If you don’t have that…back up to CD/DVD/Hard Drive…and make sure you always have a copy of your backup at another physical location…preferably a long distance from your home. (Think Hurricane Katrina).

The first one is VERY simple interface. Automated backup (I think the default is to backup any new or changed file every two hours.). Very reasonable price…for home users it is $4.95/month for unlimited data backup. If your data is less than 2GB…you can use Mozy’s free service. Very nice.

Second is Amazon’s Simple Storage Service (S3). This one has the potential to be significantly cheaper. Just in raw storage, you would need to have 33GB of data to go over the $4.95 that Mozy charges for unlimited. I currently have over 9GB on S3, and my bill last month was $1.46. Now…here’s the trick…it’s not nearly as easy as Mozy. If you aren’t an advanced user…just go with Mozy. If you are more advanced…read on.

You can read about and sign up for S3 here. What that does is give you the account to be able to upload your data. Amazon does NOT provide a client or mechanism for doing the actual upload. That is where the third party apps come in. I have used two clients. Currently both are installed on my computer. I’m still determining which I will end up using long term. JungleDisk is commercial software that costs $20 and has a lot of functionality. There is a free 30 day trial. S3 Backup is currently at Beta 12. It’s currently free…who knows about after it goes gold code. I have used S3 Backup before and was happy. It had a few quirks (but that was at Beta 9 or 10). There have been some improvements. I am looking at both of them now and will post again with the results of my evaluation.

Related post: Online Backup…Encryption.

October 10, 2007 - Posted by | tech


  1. Buy an Ipod and put all things inside of that (160GB).. !! hehe :-)

    Comment by cechinel | October 10, 2007

  2. Not a bad idea if someone already has or is considering getting an iPod. It would fall under the same category as an external hard drive for backup purposes…along with the disadvantages associated with that type of backup. Namely…will the user actually do the backup…and more importantly…the backup is not at another physical location. House burns down…both are destroyed.

    Some people scoff at thinking about the “worst case” scenario like that…but my friend Jay ran up against that very thing this year. His house burned down. I honestly don’t know if he had his data backed up or not.

    Comment by Jarvis | October 10, 2007

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