Backups, An Interesting Contrast

As I was perusing my RSS reader this morning, I came across two blog posts that provided an interesting contrast. First was from the Illinois Trial Practice Weblog. There, Evan Schaeffer points us toward an article from PC World about why you should back up online.

In contrast, I found a post from Futurelawyer pointing us toward an article from Lifehacker warning of some of the dangers of online backups.

At first blush, these articles appear to contradict each other. A closer review reveals, however, that the concerns raised by Lifehacker are slightly different from what PC World is talking about. The PC World article gives a nice overview of some of the online backup services available. The Lifehacker post cautions people about using the unused disk space on their web server as a backup option.

As PC World points out, one of the drawbacks to online backups is the expense. Recognizing this, Lifehacker had previously suggested putting unused disk space on your web server to use. In their latest post, however, they reveal that some web hosts are deleting the backup files as violations of the terms of service. Thus, if you are going to consider using this space for a backup, make sure you read your terms of service.

That, of course, leaves unanswered the question of how you should backup. I believe that a multipronged approach is best. First I suggest a “local” backup of your computer on an external hard drive. I know that there are other media available. However, I think the hard drive is the easiest most convenient way to go. If you are in love with DVDs, so be it. You will need multiple hard drives because you will always need to keep at least one of these off site. This is to ensure that you have a copy of your data somewhere other than the same location your computer is.

If your computer crashes, it’s of no concern that your backup drive was sitting by your CPU. If your building, floods, burns down, is swept off to Oz, etc., then you will certainly regret the fact that your backup drive was destroyed along with your regular drive. Thus, it is essential that you keep at least one copy of the backup off site at all times.

If you have office that is separate from your house, this is fairly easy to do. Simply carry the backup drive from the office to your house and return the next morning with the next drive from your house to the office. This becomes more difficult if your office is in your house. If this is the case, you really need to find a location away from your house to regularly take your backups. This location, should be easy for you to access and it should be located somewhere that you can conveniently visit frequently.

In addition to using backup drives and keeping them offsite, I also recommend that you find an online backup service and backup those critical data files (such as client files) with the online service. This gives you added protection in the event that a natural disaster hits both your office and your off site storage location. This is certainly possible with events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes, etc. The online site gives you an additional location (hopefully in another part of the country) where your data can safely weather the storm.

I know this seems like overkill. However, if you ever lose your data because of a hard drive crash or a natural disaster, you won’t think that it is overkill at all.

2 thoughts on “Backups, An Interesting Contrast

  1. On the subject of file backup, sharing and storage …

    Online backup is becoming common these days. It is estimated that 70-75% of all PC’s will be connected to online backup services with in the next decade.

    Thousands of online backup companies exist, from one guy operating in his apartment to fortune 500 companies.

    Choosing the best online backup company will be very confusing and difficult. One website I find very helpful in making a decision to pick an online backup company is:

    This site lists more than 400 online backup companies in its directory and ranks the top 25 on a monthly basis.

  2. I discovered a Memopal ( “cutting edge solution for online

    They merged online backup, online storage and file sharing services into one product.

    If you try this service you will notice that (contrary to most competitors):
    – You can access your files in (true) real time with a web browser
    – They really offer 250 GB (some competitors offer a fake unlimited web
    space, they say “fair use”)
    – You can share a file or many files with the 1-click-share functionality
    – Some of your files will be uploaded very very fast (turboupload)
    – The service and website are in 10 different languages

    I’ve also found two useful guide to online backup on Wikipedia:

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