Cloud Backup Strategy

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Today’s Question: What do you think about offsite cloud storage for backing up the laptop computer with home back up drive?

Tim’s Quick Answer: I think a cloud-based backup solution can be a very good supplemental backup solution, with a few caveats. Good options include Backblaze (https://www.backblaze.com) and Carbonite (https://www.carbonite.com), among other options.

More Detail: Among the key aspects of a good workflow strategy is that you retain multiple copies of your important data (such as photos), and that you store a backup at a separate physical location from your original data. An online (cloud-based) backup solution can help meet both of these goals.

Of course, an online backup solution isn’t without its challenges. To begin with, you don’t have any control over the storage being managed by the company providing the online backup service. In most cases you won’t even have any idea where the computers storing your online backup are actually located.

In addition, by its nature an online backup solution requires an Internet connection for your ongoing backup updates. As you add or update files, the backup will update via your Internet connection. Thus, if you add or update files (especially large files) on a regular basis, the actual backup update can take considerable time if you don’t have a fast Internet connection.

It is also worth noting that while many online backup services offer unlimited backup data storage, in some cases when you reach a certainly threshold your connection (and therefore your backup) may slow considerably. If the delay in backing up your latest data is significant, you could find that you are missing recent files in the event you need to recover from an online backup.

For these (and other) reasons, I recommend only using an online backup as a supplement to a complete backup solution. In other words, I recommend having at least two full backups of your data (plus the source data that is being backed up), in addition to any online backup you choose to make use of. I also recommend storing at least one of your backup copies at a separate physical location from the source data, even if you’ll use an online backup solution.

Ultimately, that means an online backup solution would provide a non-critical backup that serves to provide additional peace of mind at a relatively modest price. But I would never recommend using an online backup service as your only backup solution.