What Is Online Backup?


We’ve all known the panic induced by seeing a computer file zapped before our eyes, or losing the external hard drive we’ve been carrying about.  And how could that tiny little jump drive have disappeared?

No matter what you’re working on – a department budget, your first novel, your tax return – you need a better system of guaranteeing that your files will stay safe. That’s where online backup comes in. Your data is sent via the Internet to an offsite server, and the files are encrypted for safety.

Online backup has enormous implications for business and personal use. Any company office that doesn’t have online backup and is caught in a disaster like a tornado or hurricane faces almost insurmountable obstacles when rebuilding their data base. It’s the same at home with personal files that contain legal documents or tax returns.

Yet despite the obvious advantages of having online backup, surprisingly few people use it. A 2012 survey found that just 10 percent of computers are backed up daily. Over the next several years, though, that’s likely to change as users become more aware of the different backup services being offered. (According to Computerworld magazine, about four dozen companies now provide those services.)

Like everything else, of course, online backup has a few drawbacks. Depending on the number of files you’re sending to your backup service, the initial loading of your data can take a long time – even up to a week – if you’ve got hundreds of legal or business documents.  Once everything’s uploaded, though, it takes much less time – say, up to half an hour -  to access the files and get them sent back to your computer, or another one, in case you’ve lost them. A bigger problem might be that many services back up only the files you create and not the ones you need to start up your computer. So any system files you lose in a crash are probably gone for good.  But don’t let the details scare you away from going with an online backup service. In the end, it can give you more peace of mind than any external hard drive around. 
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