The History of Online Backup - What is Cloud Computing?

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I first began to use the Internet at home about 13-14 years ago. Considering that even months mean a long time in the technology world, the mid-90’s must have been light years ago. In those days we thought that 1.5 kilobytes per second meant there was something wrong; the system was giving incorrect results. We begged for 1 kilobyte per second consistent speed; 500-900 bytes per second was common. We routinely got disconnected a couple of times per night and tried to reconnect. Downloading 300 kilobytes from the Internet was what we thought we wanted. We even waited until midnight, because then the connection was more stable. “Uploading” was not a thing that we knew about. The times have changed - dramatically.

This change has brought many advancements both in terms of hardware and software: now everything is faster. These fast and stable connections allowed us to stream media from the Internet (online radios), work with large files (at least sending/receiving megabytes of attachments in an e-mail), and most importantly of all, the ability to backup our files.

You might wonder why you should backup your files to the Internet when you have external hard drives,CD/DVD burners, network attached storage, etc. The answer is not complicated: when you backup your files to the Internet, you can access them from anywhere at anytime. Your data is distributed among the servers so that they are immune to hardware failures and you are not responsible for taking care of hardware issues.

Internet based technology usage, like uploading your files, working with office documents, and using online operating systems is defined as “cloud computing.” The reason the word “cloud” is used is because, in flowcharts, the Internet is always shown as a fluffy cloud. You probably are already using some aspects of cloud computing. Working with Google Docs or Zoho Office, or uploading photos to Picasa or Flickr, are examples of working within the cloud.

Software as a Service, Backing Up

Online storage services, with the Web 2.0 and Software as a Service (SaaS) concept has already begun to hurt the conventional software providers. The competition had a very big effect on SaaS. Google started it all with the online office program called Google Docs. If you have a Gmail account, then you can visit Google Docs website and instantly begin to work on your word processor, spreadsheet or presentation. Zoho offered a complete document management and online storage for Office programs. This move made many users think “Why should I pay hundreds dollars for an office suite that’s locked to my computer, when I can use one for free and access anywhere, anytime?” The online services continued to improve. They soon added collaboration and sharing features, such as editing one document with more than one user at the same time. Much of this sharing was actually a by-product. You do not need to attach megabytes of photo to your e-mail to share your last family reunion photos. Instead, upload them to Picasa Web and send the link to the specific gallery to all your family members.

Of course, the story doesn’t end here. Many online backup websites have emerged. Some offer basic storage services for home and small office users, while others offered enterprise-grade ones. This new market introduced competition, and the competition in turn introduced differentiation.

At first, you had to log in at the website and upload your files one by one. Now, after you create an account, you can download a program to nstall on your system. You will tell the program which files/folders you want to be backed up, and the program will upload all the files/folders to your online storage space. Then, any files you create or change inside the folders will immediately be uploaded to the website, meaning that you will have synchronization between your PC and your online storage space.

So, in any case of disaster, a hard disk crash, stolen computer etc., you will have a full copy of all your files in their last saved (backed up) state. And you do not have to worry about the external hard disk, forgetting it somewhere, the aging of your system, etc.

For your online backup needs, you can check Humyo, DropBox, Adrive. You can also distribute your files to various providers, such as Photos to Picasa and Documents to DropBox.By the way, you can use DropBox with your Android smartphone or iPhone using the DropBox agent. This means that you can access your stored files virtually everywhere.

My suggestion is that you go to an established online storage provider, create an account and upload files as soon as possible. I have files that I’ve worked on for years, like every computer user, and I can not afford to lose them. I am sure you are not any different.

This post is part of the series: Online Data Backup

Everyday the number of our files are increasing. We need to have copies somewhere to prepare for a computer failure. In this series we first look at the background of the Internet/backup and then analyze the online backup systems that are available to every online user.

  1. Online Backup - Cloud Computing Services
  2. Online (Cloud) Backup Services Reviewed