Four Cheap Backup Methods Computer backup is comparable to taking out an insurance policy on your data. You hope you never have to use it, but you’re darn glad it’s there when you do need it. And also like insurance, data backup is a cost-effective way to mitigate the costs of any future disasters. This backup guide is geared towards the individual user. Businesses and organizations can also benefit from backup, but their needs are more complex and that is beyond the scope of this guide. The backup needs of the regular person are simpler but no less important. Most of us today have work documents, school papers, vacation photos, music collections and other things that we need to protect. There are several routes you can take in implementing a backup solution. These backup options work well, they are reliable and they are affordable for most family budgets. 1. Online Backup Online backup is a booming industry with many competing services offering various backup solutions. Some of the most popular online backup companies include Carbonite, JustCloud, Mozy and Backblaze. These companies are all a little different, but the basic idea is that they back up your most important files to the cloud for a small fee. For example, Backblaze provides unlimited online backup for about $5.00 per month. For that fee, you get an unlimited amount of storage space and software that performs automatic backups on a set schedule. The biggest advantage of online backup is that your backups are stored on remote servers, which adds protection from local disasters such as floods and fires. The biggest disadvantage is that you have to trust the company to take care of its servers and provide adequate security for your files. 2. External Hard Drives The external hard drive is the simplest backup solution. All you need to do is visit the local computer store and buy a USB-ready external hard drive. Modern hard drives are ready to go out of the box. Just plug it in, copy your files over and you’re protected. The ease of this backup method is offset by one major downside: you have to perform backups manually. It’s up to you to remember to copy your files over on a regular basis in order to keep your backups up to date Additionally, external hard drives are susceptible to physical disasters such as floods and fires. In the worst case scenario, a flood or file could destroy the original data on your main computer and the backups on any external hard drives located nearby. 3. File Syncing Services
File syncing services such as Dropbox and SpiderOak are designed to keep files up to date across multiple computers. Using Dropbox as an example, any file that you save in your Dropbox folder is uploaded to the cloud and shared with any other computer that you have connected to your Dropbox account. These file syncing services also double as online backup because they store copies of your files in the cloud. The downside to using a file syncing service for backup is that you pay a premium for space. The upside is that file syncing comes in very handy for people who own more than one computer. 4. Gmail I can’t recommend Gmail as your primary backup solution, but it does come in handy in a pinch. Gmail is completely free to use and it provides several gigs of storage space. This option is useful for last minute backups when you have no other option. All you have to do is sign up for a free account and send an email to yourself with any important files added as attachments. The biggest downside to Gmail is that it is not designed as a backup method. Google does not endorse Gmail for use as a backup method, so your files are exposed to unknown risks. For that reason, I recommend Gmail only as a temporary, last-minute backup solution. Use it if you have to, but don’t grow to depend on it. The other problem with Gmail is that it doesn’t play nicely with large files. You need to keep attachments to 25 MB or less. However, you do have the option to sign up for a Google Drive account, which will increase the maximum Gmail attachment size to 10 GB.