Online Backup – What is it?
Obviously we have to start with the basics. As I mentioned in my introduction I store many files on my PC. It’s even more. My whole life is on my PC. The thing is here: I am probably not alone. I guess you have many gigabytes of valuable files on your PC or Mac, too. I can guarantee you we are not the only persons worrying about our data. Backups are becoming more and more commonplace and services such as Dropbox or SugarSync have made online backup and file syncing a breeze. But what is online backup and how does it work? I’ll answer those questions in the first chapter of this guide.
What is online backup?
First of all we have to clarify what a backup is. A backup is referred to as a copy of your data at another location. So let’s say you are a writer and you have written the first 40 pages of your novel. Obviously, you save the document on your PC. Now, when you do a backup you basically copy that file but you technically don’t or rather shouldn’t store its on the same hard drive. That file is called your backup. You can use it in case you lose the original file that you have stored on your PC. So in case of data loss you don’t lose your novel.
Online backup works the same way as local backup does. But with the exception that your backup file is not stored on your PC or another hard drive at your home, but rather at a remote location with an online backup service. These services do have data centers. And in those data centers there are lots of hard drives where your data and other people’s data is stored. The advantages are clear: whatever happens to your PC or to your home your data is safely stored elsewhere and can be restored any time, anywhere.
How does online backup work?
There are a lot of online backup services out there. They differ in function, storage space, accessibility, and much more. However, the backup routine is almost always the same.
1. Account creation
The first thing you have to do is to create an account with the online backup provider. Many online backup providers do offer free account creation with at least 2 GB of free storage. Once you have created your account you can decide whether 2 GB is enough or if you want upgrade to the paid version that gives you a lot more online storage.
2. Download the client software
All of the online backup services require that you download a client software. With this client you can set up your backup, schedule it and in case of emergency restore your data from within it. The bigger online backup companies do offer clients for windows, Mac and Linux. In my comparison chart you’ll find an overview which operation systems are supported by the providers. Here is a sample video of an installation process.
3. Install the client software
You might say, obviously I have to install the software. But I wanted to include this segment because you absolutely need administrator rights to perform the installation.
4. Start an initial backup and schedule your backups
Many clients do have a wizard that guides you through the initial backup process and also lets you schedule future backups so that you don’t have to worry about data loss anymore. These wizards come in handy if you don’t want to fiddle around with preference menus.
5. Wait until the backup is complete
Now you have to wait. Depending on the amount of data and your Internet connection speed it might take even weeks until the initial backup has been performed. So be sure to first make a local backup before starting the online backup. Some providers do have a speed calculator that allows you to estimate how long your backup is going to take. On average 3 to 4 GB can be uploaded per day.
6. Restore your data in case of emergency
So, the day has come. Your hard drive crashed, your PC won’t start, or you returned from vacation and somebody intruded your home. And now you need your data fast. Fortunately, you have made an online backup. The majority of online backup services do offer 2 ways of restoring your data: 1) restore your data from within the software client or 2) restore your data from a web client. This is very useful if you don’t have your machine at hand and need important project files right now.
As you can see online backup is not that difficult once you understand how it works. It is a very convenient way of storing, securing and later rescuing your data without worrying too much about the mechanics. I just love the peace of mind my backups give me. For as low as $3 per month you can insure yourself against losing data worth thousands of dollars or irreplaceable memories. Yes, for one Café latte at Starbucks you can save your digital life.