Over the years, the capacities of hard drives have grown very quickly. Along with the growth of hard drive capacity has come a growth in the data that we want to save. In 1999, it was almost unheard of to store all of one's music and photo catalogue on their computer. Today, no one gives that a second thought - and with the larger hard drives, those picture and music files have gotten larger.
At the same time, the capacity of media available to consumers has not really kept up. USB Keys are much larger today - but even the largest affordable devices are much, much smaller than the capacity of the average hard drive. The same is true for writeable DVD media.
These factors lead to a situation where people know that they should backup their data, but don't. Fortuneately there are solutions available to mitigate the situation and allow for a fairly easy data backup strategy.
Businesses are fortunate that they can centralize their important date and back it up nightly to one of the many backup tape technologies available today. These solutions, while very good at what they do, are priced out of the budget of consumers.
USB Hard Drive Backups
External USB Hard Drives are a good option for consumer data backups. These devices are essentially just a regular hard drive attached to a system via the USB connector. The benefit of these devices is that they can be disconnected after a backup is made and taken off site. The draw back of these devices is that even USB 2.0 is a slower data transfer protocol than the native speeds that can be found with internal drives.
In addition to the external hard drive, some software is required if an automated backup is needed. There is a very nice free software from CobianSoft that handles regular backups very nicely - just as nice as any commercial package that is available.
With the proliferation of broadband internet connections, another method of backing up important data has become available. Online backups are offered by several different companies for varying costs. Each of the services have a software piece that will sit on a machine and copy data up to a server in their cloud for storage and retrieval. All of the services encrypt the data - but each customer should review their policies prior to signing on to make sure that they are comfortable with any of those companies.
A list of online backup sites is provided below. TSB Bank does not endorse any of these sites, but each of the ones listed are major companies in this space.
Carbonite - Flat fee for unlimited backup capacity. $55/year at the time of this article.
IDrive - Free for 2GB of space; $5/month for $150GB of space. The IDrive client also supports versioning (keeping multiple versions of a file if it is changed between backup runs).
Mozy - Unlimited space for $5/month; Free for 2GB of space.
SOS Online Backup - 2GB for $20/year; 15GB for $50/year. Continuous Data Protection creates back ups of any changes as soon as they are committed to disk.
JungleDisk + Amazon S3 or Rackspace - This is more of a hybrid service. Jungledisk is a software package that handles the file selection and copy services on the local machine. One can choose to use either Amazon's S3 (Simple Storage Service) or Rackspace's Cloud to store the backed up data. Jungledisk supports versioning of files during the backup and the online backup space can be mapped like a Windows drive for easy restoration. This option would cost $2 per month (for the Jungledisk software) plus storage fees ($0.15/GB/month at either Amazon or Rackspace) plus bandwidth fees (Amazon only).