Why you need a cloud backup service, and how to use one

Cloud backup is exactly what it sounds like. Your data is stored in an online repository, where it’s accessible to you when you need it. It works like this: You download a desktop client to your PC, select the folders you want to back up, and that data uploads to the service on a set schedule. Then if catastrophe strikes, such as a house fire or robbery, you have a clean, up-to-date copy of your data stashed on a server somewhere, all safe and sound.

Cloud backup does not eliminate the need for a local backup on an external hard drive of some sort, but it provides an easy solution for keeping another backup off-site. Your other options are to circulate a few hard drives that you keep in a safe at the office (a pain to remember), or run a remote server (technically challenging). Pay a few bucks a year to store your hard drive data online with a third-party provider is the easiest choice for most people.

Finding a service is easy enough, too. There’s Backblaze (the service I currently use), Carbonite (a service I have used), Mozy, SpiderOak (another service I’ve used), and many others.

The hard part is understanding how to use cloud storage and familiarizing yourself with some of the details you might not think about.

Cloud backup vs. cloud syncing

It’s important to clarify the difference between a cloud backup service and a sync service like Dropbox or Google Drive. If you need a few files always in sync among multiple PCs or mobile devices, you’d be better off relying on a sync service. With a backup service, you could definitely pull out individual files in a pinch, but the user interface is usually a little cumbersome for grabbing files compared to, say, Dropbox’s.

Most mainstream cloud storage backup services offer what’s essentially unlimited backup, though limits of some sort will apply. The only exception to that rule is SpiderOak, which sets data storage limits but offers a higher degree of encryption and security than most services. Skip any cheap service that limits your data to 500GB or 1TB.

Take the time to figure out what the rules are for your backup service. In general, online backup services let you save any personal files on your PC. Some services also let you back up connected drives as part of the price, while others will charge extra for it.

Even if your plan does allow external hard drives, that doesn’t mean you can back up home servers or RAID boxes with multiple hard drives. You’ll also have to reconnect your external hard drives regularly to avoid having your saved content deleted from your cloud backup.

1 Comment
  1. Reply Ross 07.09.2016 at 17:02

    Thanks for showing me the ways how to store and keep my files safe. It`s so silly but our life depends on our pc too much these days and we all should realise how important to get our data protected.

Leave a reply