Posted 10th May, 2018 @ 10:15 am | by Jenny Morrison
We all know that we should have at least one backup of the files on our devices, preferably two, but for people who aren’t confident with technology, arranging and running […]
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Anyone who’s ever felt the dawning realisation that a hard-disk has failed – losing untold hours of work, precious photos and files – knows it’s a mistake you only make once. While the vast increase in the capacity of our hard drives is great for storing ever-larger quantities of data, it also means that when a disk fails – and they all do eventually – we have a lot more to lose.
Luckily, just as storage capacity has boomed, so has the speed of data-transfer, making it easier than ever to back up crucial files. There are several ways to back up, but by far the most popular is to use and online ‘cloud’ back-up provider. These companies offer software that automates the process, taking all the hassle out of securing your files.
Automatically back up documents, photos, video and even programs to secure online servers.
Share files quickly and simply between computers to streamline your workflow.
Restore from multiple previous file versions and repair lost or corrupted documents.
The primary function of an online backup provider is to protect your data. While the exact format will vary, they all operate on the same basic premise – your files are uploaded to a remote server, where they are stored in an encrypted state, ready for you to download if ever you need them. Simple!
Another great feature offered by many backup providers is the ability to connect and share files across devices. By allowing multiple devices to connect to you backup server, you may easily sync files between desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone – making it simple to access your data wherever you may be.
Once your files are safely stored, you can breathe a sigh of relief. If the worst happens, and your hard-drive fails, it’s straightforward to just download your backed-up copies, and many providers allow you to restore a whole hard-disk state including programs. With file version control, some backup services will even allow you to access and restore previous versions of saved files. Accidentally saved over an important document? Simply select an older file version to download.
The more conscientious among us may well have been backing up for many years before the idea of a ‘cloud‘ in the technological sense existed – from tapes and floppy disks, to CDs, zip-drives and external hard-drives. While other media have fallen by the wayside, the external hard-drive is still one of the most prevalent ways to back up data – they are quick and easy to use, can be password-protected, and nowadays can have huge storage capacity for relatively little expense.
While keeping a backup on external hard drive is sensible, there are a number of reasons why paying a small monthly fee for an online backup makes good sense.
As good as they are, External Hard Drives are, unfortunately, prone to all of the same issues as your computer’s original disk. Having an external back-up in your office won’t be much comfort if the whole building catches fire!
Backing up to hard disk can also be a headache in itself – it requires scheduling time to do so and relies on you remembering to keep to that schedule. It’s also not particularly secure – sure, you can password protect the disk, but without dedicated encryption software this won’t help much in the case of targeted hacking.
So what’s the solution?
Online backups solve all of these common problems, as well as offering extended functions that not only keep your data safer, but also make it easy to access wherever you are, across any device. You need never spend time manually backing up again – for just a few pounds a month, a cloud backup provider will automatically update and encrypt your files in real time – meaning any changes you make between major backups is saved.
There are a multitude of different back-up services available online, each offering their own package of features. Broadly speaking though, most follow some variation on one of two distinct models, and which you choose will depend a lot on what you want from the service (and how much you want to spend).
The most common types of backup coverage will either offer Unlimited Storage for a Single Device, or Limited Storage for Multiple Devices. Of course, there are many different versions of this offer, with more or less storage, more or fewer devices, and various levels of security, synchronization and connectivity.
When choosing which type of package to go for, you’ll need to consider first and foremost how many devices you want to back up. If you’re interested in comprehensively protecting a single computer, you’ll likely want a deal with unlimited (or at least very large) storage capacity. This will ensure that you can create a complete copy of everything on your computer – even including folder structure and installed software – as well as retaining access to previous file versions should you need to ‘rewind’ a file.
On the other hand if you want to backup files from multiple computers, tablets or smartphones, you’ll probably want to opt for a multi-device package. These tend to offer a smaller data storage allowance – meaning you will need to be selective about which files you want to back up – but will allow you to secure data from all of your devices, and sync files so that you are able to access them from any connected device.
There are pros and cons to either package, but the main difference will likely be price. Unlimited Storage packages tend to cost around the same for a single computer as Multi-Device packages would cost to cover several devices – the trade-off being in the amount of data that can be saved from each device.
All of that being said, these are by no means hard rules, and there are many ways to maximise value with discounts available on longer contract terms or multiple accounts.