A Basic Guide to Online Backup
You may have heard of it, know you need it, but what exactly is it? Online backup is the way to safeguard your valuable data on your home computer, laptop or mobile devices quickly and conveniently. Backing up data in the past meant that you would save your files to a CD, DVD or a USB flash drive, but those usually ended up on top of a shelf somewhere, never to be found again. The safest place would be a bank deposit box, but that can be very inconvenient despite how important that data is. The new way to protect data is easy to do and easy to recover and that is what Online Backup brings to the table.
What is Online Backup?
If you can connect to the internet, then online backup is for you, but what is it exactly? The best way to think about online backup is to imagine the bank deposit box mentioned previously in the introduction. That’s exactly what online backup is, a safety deposit box of your valuable data, stored safely away from physical damage at a secure building somewhere in the world.
Every major corporation that deals with important data, each one has a disaster recovery plan. A requirement of a disaster recovery plan is that at least one recent copy of all the company’s data is stored offsite. That way, if something were to happen to the building or the computers in that company, then the files would be safe and those files could be reinstalled at another location when the time is right. That is what online backup can do for anyone with a computer.
Why is Online Backup Important?
Here are the solid facts when it comes to your computer and why Online Backup is important:
There is more than a 40% chance that a computer will crash. Hard drives can crash, motherboards, memory and any of those can cause a cascade failure that will potentially corrupt or completely destroy any data.
Also, factor in a 12% chance that the software that you are using could become corrupted.
Viruses, they can slip by when your anti-virus protection needs an update. That is another 7% chance that your files could be irreparably harmed.
It’s important to consider a natural catastrophe such as a fire, flooding or even theft. This is another 7% percent chance where you data could be lost forever.
Finally, the second most common reason for data loss; human error and there is a 30% chance of files being accidentally deleted or overwritten.
This means that there is a 100% chance that something is going to happen to your computer. Online Backup is the only way to protect your data completely. Online Backup shields your important files from physical damage, theft and if that human error factor becomes an issue, then those files that you backup are versioned. This means that there are multiple versions of that one file at different stages. If you need to go back to a prior version, before something was added or deleted, then you also have that extra security.
Who Uses Online Backup?
Online backup was initially only available to large businesses that could afford data protection services in their disaster recovery plans or daily operations. When online backup first came to the IT scene, it was referred to as a SAN (storage area network) and was not as sophisticated as today’s cloud online backup technology. As costs for SANs lowered, medium and small sized businesses were able to afford the technology.
Eventually, the concept of virtualization in data storage arrived in the form of cloud online backup services. Cloud technology is more efficient and the cost to the end user (personal or business) is minimal because of the reduced need for physical data storage hardware, media and onsite technical support. Because of the quick adoption of cloud technology and the affordability of the technology; anyone has access to it for personal or business use.
How Does Online Backup Work?
Online backup is ideally a two-step process. The first part of the process is copying files to an offsite server where they will remain until needed. The second part of the process is that those files should be recovered reliably and brought back to where the end user needs them. Within the process of online backup, there are a number of minute details that make all of the difference between online backup service providers.
The company that gets closest to only two steps and makes it looks easy is usually the company that gets the most business. In order for online backup to work smoothly and seamlessly, a lot of responsibility is put on the end user. Online backup providers that have unnecessarily complicated procedures and software, run the risk of the online backup process failing.
The easier it is for the end user to do their part in the process, then the easier the entire process becomes. This is why it is very important that online backup service providers streamline their backup process and automate at least 98% of it. This is generally done by giving the end user control over what files to backup and then allowing the process to go to auto-pilot.
Online backup for the end user should also just be a two-step process. The first part would be to configure the settings for the files that the automatic system will backup and the second part is a one-click restore feature that returns the stored files to any device the end user needs them on. Will it work like this every time? Barring any major technical problems; definitely.
How Secure and Private is Online Backup?
Security for nearly all online backup providers is equivalent to that used by banks. Passwords are assigned to accounts, data is encrypted and all files are transferred via secured channels. The weakest point of security is on the end user’s side. Considering that cloud backup data centers often have armed guards, but some home computers do not have updated virus protection, it is an easy assumption to make that the end user could probably beef up security.
There are some very simple ways to meet the online backup provider halfway with security at home or in the office. The first, as was mentioned earlier, virus protection updates. Computers should be setup to automatically install anti-virus profiles and updates. Another way to increase security is by making certain that at the very least, there is a software firewall and at the most secure; a hardware firewall.
Privacy and security go hand in hand and the online backup companies have security down to a science. There is, however, one method of security that is stronger than another and that comes in the handling of user passwords. Some online backup providers have policies in place where the end user is responsible for their own password and the company does not know it and the other is where the provider knows the end users password.
The first instance is considered more secure, in that actual interaction would have to take place between the end user and the backup company to create a new password. While both methods are secure, the first method is considered more secure because there is less room for human error to be made.
What Features Should I look for When Choosing an Online Backup Service?
The services that you will require from an online backup company will be based on why you need online backup services. If you are a home user and you just want to store music files and videos, then you might not need as many features as a company that is looking for a need of massive amounts of storage and fast deployment features.
However, you will most likely find that every online backup company that serves both the business sector and the private sector, provide nearly the exact services to each, just on a different scale.
As an online backup customer, you will want to have each of these addressed to your satisfaction:
- How reliable are the servers that the online backup company uses?
- How expensive is the online backup service compared to other competitors?
- To increase the ease of use, are additional features such as mobile app software available?
- Does the company provide a substantial amount of file versioning?
Several online backup companies offer free online backup storage space and/or a free trial. Take advantage of that opportunity to test out the online backup provider’s service. That is an excellent way to discover if their services meet your needs. Another reliable source of helpful information is online backup reviews and comparisons. These are generally written by consumers and can offer some great insight into how a cloud online backup provider operates. The best thing you can do to protect your valuable files and data is to sign up with an online backup company before you lose any of your favorite digital memories or files.