You are going to lose data sometime or the other unless you are prepared and arranged for proper back-up and recovery. The question is never if you’ll los data but when. Most often mechanical failure or human error can be blamed for data loss. Software bugs, viruses and natural calamities have correspondingly smaller probabilities of destroying your data. In a business scenario, deliberate acts of disgruntled employees could be a major reason. Theft of your machine or the hard disks also can lead to the problem. Hackers can steal valuable data if you are open to security breaches. Regular backups can help you get back to the point where most of the lost data can be restored. If the back up is done continuously and incrementally, you can probably save most of the data prior to the disaster striking you. Back up to a remote location is also one of the safest as natural and other disasters can affect all the machines in a given location.
While this is such a vital activity, it is possible one of the most neglected. Only solution seems to be if the back up is automatic without requiring any intervention from the user.
On-line back up & Restore Services
Several services have come up that strive to provide this ideal in a subscription based model. Additional benefit is that in exchange of this subscription, you do not have to invest in anything extra, not a single disk or media even. All you need is an internet connection. Depending on the type of service, it may need to be a always on connection. The ones that are not always on, usually need some user intervention. By storing data on a remote machine, possibly a remote data center, additional benefits you derive are that the data is available from anywhere in the world. If you travel a lot, this a convenience which is quite useful. Variations in services are many but fall in a few broad classes. The first type is you download a batch uploader from the service provider and keep uploading your files. You can usually have on-line access and manage the organization of the files/folders. Come time for a restore, for whatever reason, you can simply download a specific files or the whole lot, if required. Similar features, but through the browser access, is another variation on the theme. A particularly convenient form is the services just require an Internet connection, whenever there is a connection on, it will do a back up of the identified files. An interface is provided for restore. This is truly hands-free service. Once set up there is nothing that a user needs to do.
Back-up Services Available
There is a range of services available. The mention of a service here does not necessarily mean endorsement of it but as a representative service. Also by no means it is a complete list. You should look at the service offerings and judge the cost benefits for your specific situation. In general though, for individuals, home offices and SMB businesses this is one of the most effective means of protecting you data assets.
Well known brands such as Dell and HP provide these services in the form of Dell’s Data Safe and HP’s Upline services. HP service has since been discontinud last quarter of this year. Well known provider of the Zip software provides the Carbonite services. Mozy is a similar service. Spare Backup Inc is a company that was started to address this space only and over the years have stabilized to a quality service. KeepIT, iDrive, Data Deposit Box , SwapDrive and Memopal as also F-Secure are some more representative services available. SwaoDrive has since become a Norton/ Symantec company. There are whole lot of other services available that are file repositories really speaking. You have to ensure that the repository has the latest back up copies. Their main reason for existence is for file sharing and as download services. They are remote and has the advantages of remote services. Recovery is as effective as any of the other services mentioned earlier.
Reviewing the Services
Mozy and carbonite offer possibly the simplest way of protecting your data assets. Once simply set up the services keep working and backing up your data that has changed. Except for the initial set up users do not need to do anything. For individuals, small office home office crowd and SMB offices these two services make eminent sense as you not only take care of a vital service, you do not need to you IT people pool to supervise/manage the activity. Since the back up is being taken all the while, be sure you have the extra power in your processor. One good way to check it out would be with all the other activity mix you normally use and see if it anything slows down due to back up service running.
On the other extreme is Swap Drive, which possibly offers the most expensive service. Others cover a range of performance and offer a whole set of features. Typical issues to look at to decide if a service fits your needs are to look at the speed of up/download, what does it take to set it up, how much time do you need to spend to maintain the operations, does it take time to organize the storage structure or it simply copies your existing directory structure ( in which case you’ll know exactly where to find the file to restore from). Here are some other articles on on-line back up that will help you understand the services further.The biggest problem with backup in general, remote backup in particular was the management part. For small businesses it is difficult to appoint a person to take care of the daily management aspect. Without a specific person being in charge, it used to be a forgotten chore. At personal level it used to look as a huge bother. Not anymore, you donot even have to be aware backup is being taken care of without being evident and all the time!