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What to look for in Online Backup Safety

written by: Mark Muller•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 8/8/2011

Is my online backup safe? In order for you to have a safe online backup a number of factors should to be considered, but I remain skeptical about online backup safety:

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    Online Backup providers are mushrooming up. Apart from the many companies you have probably never heard you can, for example, buy unlimited offline backup capacity from the online market leader for as little as 4.95 $ a month. There are solution providers which offer the same for even less, but to have a safe online backup, in the sense it’s still there when you need it for a restore in a few years time, you should look for the ones which are the most likely to stay in business. Even if you stay with the big names such as Mozy or Comodo unexpected things like the Financial Crisis can happen, and common sense can sometimes be wrong, too.

    Moreover, many online backup vendors may be only selling storage or backup capacity without owning the underlying infrastructure, but if the datacenter operator gets in trouble so probably does the online backup seller, and your backed up data may become temporarily or permanently unavailable. Your data may also be in trouble should a (pure) reseller quit business for any reason. Whom are you going to talk to then? In any case chances are high that the Terms of Service will not be in your favor, and getting your data back may be a long, costly or hopeless process.

    Apart from the vendor risk to online backup safety is an online backup of little use if your computer hard disk crashes and you have to restore a couple of hundreds GB over a thin cable. Can you, as a home user, afford to wait a couple of days – or even longer - to have your data restored? Worst: If an organization or company outsources the backup to an online backup provider and Murphy strikes your business could be out of business if data cannot be restored in reasonable time.

    This is not to say that I am against remote backups but I prefer owned storage with reasonable time to restore over outsourced backups with uncertainty. In any case, if you have data leaving your organization or if you transmitted data over the Internet for backup purposes make sure it is encrypted with a strong algorithm such as Twofish or AES for online backup security. As a best practice test the restore procedure! If you are really looking for an online backup solution provider then you should check out our article Comodo Online Backup Versus Mozy: Which is Best? Keep in mind though that the Internet becomes even more saturated because of online backups.

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    Author's own experience

    Twofish encryption:

    AES encryption: