Technology Tool – File Storage/Backup

I thought I would share with you a few tools I have found that make file storage and backup easier. There are 2 options available: physical backup or cloud storage. Within the cloud storage option there are services that will sync files in specific folders across all devices or backup files to the cloud which can also be access remotely.

Physical Backup
This means using an external hard drive to backup your files or entire PC. Many come with software that will do automatic backups for you as long as the device is connected. Drives are cheap now and you can pick up a 750GB drive for about $100. As prices are dropping all the time you can even get 1TB
drives for not much more. Look for devices that are self powered rather than needing an external power hookup – makes them more portable. As drives increase in size there is some concern about whether you should put all your eggs in one basket with a single large drive or diversify with a couple of smaller drives.

The main issue with these are remembering to make the backups – even if you remember to always keep it connected, and if you do keep it connected it won’t help if there is a fire or other disaster at your location. Another problem is that you don’t have any remote access – you have to carry the device with you.

Cloud Backup
A really useful and cost effective option to keeping your important files, music, video backed up is using a service by Carbonite. For a whopping $55 a year you get unlimited online storage in a really safe service. Initially all your files will be backed up and this could take a while even on a DSL connection, but once this is completed the software runs in the background and just uploads new or changed files.

The great advantage to this kind of service is that you can access your files from any web connection – PC, iPhone, smartphone, etc. Restoring your files, it’s all about this really, is simple too with an easy interface that walks you through the process. Your files are kept secure through the use of double encryption transfers.

The individual user service only enables a single computer to be backed up. The Pro version that can be used by companies is priced based on gigabyte storage per month, but you can have unlimited devices setup to backup. Pricing is reasonable with up to 99GB for $50 a month.

Cloud File Syncing
There are a couple of nice services that let you sync files to the cloud and across all your mobile devices.
Dropbox is my favorite giving you 2GB free storage. What’s great about this service is that it installs on your computer and mounts like a new folder in your My Documents area. This way you can just drag and drop files into it like any other folder on your PC. There is an iPhone/iPad and android apps for your mobile devices. You can also access your files via the Dropbox website from any Internet connection. You can work on your files files while offline and changes will sync when you get an Internet connection back.

After you have modified or added files the service syncs to the web and updates all devices when they connect to the Internet. The service also keeps older versions of files for 30 days in case you want to revert to an earlier version. Additionally, deleted files are also kept for a while for those who
like the delete button too much.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a commercial version of this available, but additional storage space is reasonably priced: $9.99 a month for 50GB storage. Syncing is fast because only the changes to a file are updated, not the entire file – well, unless it is a new file!

For team projects you can share folders/files and invite people to access those files. I really wish I could find some team collaboration software that would allow multiple people to collaborate on a document and show what changes each person makes! When sharing the files an email is sent to the person and they have to either have an account or create a Dropbox account. There is another option though where you can put files in your Public folder and then share a link with anyone. You can use this to create photo galleries to share with people. The file is accessible to anyone with the link, so to unshare a
file you would need to remove it from the Public folder. is a similar service, but you only get 1GB free storage and doesn’t give you file syncing unless you have a business account. This service does seem more directed to commercial applications giving the file syncing, document versioning and password sharing options. A Business account is $15 a month for 3+ users, 15GB per user and 2GB max file limit. Interesting to note, the free account only gives a user a max file upload size of 25MB. There is also an Enterprise option that gives unlimited storage and finally includes the file encryption security. I wouldn’t really recommend this service for personal usage for documents because it will not be using encryption for transfers – use it to backup your music or photos.

I decided to use Carbonite to backup my work PC and then use Dropbox to keep all my other files on other computers backed up. As you can specify the folders Carbonite backs up, I have it backup my Dropbox folder too – double security!  Carbonite by default does not backup your applications or Windows settings files, although you can manually specify them. Instead, I used my portable hard drive to make a full backup of my entire drive which will cover the applications too and then Carbonite will take care of keeping my other files up to date in the background.


2 responses to “Technology Tool – File Storage/Backup

  1. Funny thing happened just after I posted this blog. I went to restart my PC – which takes 5 hours anyway, and the beastie crashes on reboot! Good thing I pay attention to my own advice and had backups all done!!!

  2. Good job that you do as you blog and had a good backup of your files 🙂

    Dropbox is great. But never mind the cloud, how about solar flares/sudden magnetic pole switches? Rare as they are, they could potentially wipe out a large portion of hard disks and tapes in the planet, so you could argue everyone should keep a copy of important files on optical media…

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